Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Critical Break: 60-100 Series: Cooking

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 continues his 60-100 series with the sixth installment: Cooking. This week's special guest commentator/contributor is the pun-machine himself: Kaelis.

Cooking, according to the Vana'diel Census, is the most popular craft by far beyond the Craftsman level (58+). It's pretty easy to see why. The craft is rather inexpensive to get to 60 to begin with and probably one of the easiest/cheapest to get up to a very high level.

Does that mean it's worth getting up to 100?

I tend to view the consumables market as a necessary evil. Often times, consumables will sell for faster than you can make them, but the amount of time spent making them is somewhat better served by just going out to farm NPC'able items. Most of the time, the consumables market relies on your ability to HQ reliably. Meaning don't expect to make any money if you can't.

With that said, the three questions I normally ask don't really apply to Cooking in general. It's a consumables-based craft. There is no gear to be made for any level, just food and drinks. With it's variety in consumables, it's hard for anyone to corner the market for any one particular food. This works out to be a good and a bad thing. It's good because it means your competition is likely spread out over said variety. It's bad because your competition is keeping tabs on it all and the second you start making some money, they're going to come flood your market. While that latter part is true for most crafts, it's especially true for cooking since the ingredients are readily available from the AH or NPC. There isn't really a way for you to clear the stock out to buy yourself some time.

Cooking is definitely worth it to level, especially on a mule, just don't expect to make a bajillion gil all at once with it. Also...don't expect a real efficient manner in terms of time spent simply preparing for your final products.

Kaelis' Intro: What people who are going to be leveling cooking have to keep in mind is, you're basically fighting over scraps. Cooking is so easy to level, I did it on a mule back during the major inflation for a total initial investment of 50k. Which means competition is fierce, plentiful, and more than willing to undercut you to the bone. The way to make money in this is via volume, so if you decide to go with cooking, get used to spending most of your time sitting on your butt.

Read on for the guide.

Phase 1: Eggs and Cheese, Cheese and Eggs. Where's the Spam?

Cheap and easy synth. It's possible you were doing this prior to 60. In the 0-60 guide, I suggested using Yag drinks to cap at 60, but this works as well. Buy the milk from it's namesake vendor and the rock salt at the guild. Make these to cap, NPC them and move onto the next item. You should be relatively close to break even on these.

Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Selbina Milk, 1x Rock Salt.
Cap: Level 61

The same pattern persists here as a few previous synths. One version uses a lizard egg while the other, that caps higher, uses a bird egg. Definitely farm up the lizard eggs from Crawler's Nest (Labyrinth Lizards) as they drop in spades there. Buy up the rest of your mats from the regional merchants and NPC the results.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Lizard Egg, 1x Distilled Water, 1x LaTheine Cabbage, 1x San d'Orian Carrot.
Cap: Level 66

Same deal as above, only with bird eggs. Buying from vendors will put you just about at the break even point or a little above. Turn in some Raisin Bread when you reach cap here for your Artisan rank.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Bird Egg, 1x Distilled Water, 1x LaTheine Cabbage, 1x San d'Orian Carrot.
Cap: Level 68

Phase 2: Fruit Au Laits and Fish.

You will need to have Raw Fish Handling before you can finish this section. Rounding up the ingredients for each of the various sushi requires the Tavnazian region be under someone's control so you can purchase Ground Wasabi. Rice Vinegar can be bought from the various Tenshodo merchants (max your Norg fame). This pretty much leaves the Tarutaru Rice to be picked up from the guild merchants or from the AH.

Kaelis Comment: It should be noted that the Tavnazian vendor only sells if you're past mission 3-5 in CoP. In addition, that still leaves in a lot of cases the majority of the cost to be paid for a synth in which the other ingredients are cheap for the wasabi itself, which there is no way to reduce the cost. Sushi does sell quickly, but again, it's a popular market.

Now we're getting into one of the stalwarts of Cooking. Sushi continues to be a popular, albeit not super profitable, synth despite the advent of Marinara Pizza. Round up the ingredients for Sushi per the instructions above. Bastore Bream and Mercanbaligi are regularly available on the AH for purchase and you can generally resell the results on the AH for a profit. Mercanbaligi are easy to catch in Nashmau w/o the risk of monster catches if your fishing is 50 or above as well.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Mercanbaligi, 1x Tarutaru Rice, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Rice Vinegar, 1x Ground Wasabi
Cap: Level 72

These are going to NPC for a loss of about 300ish gil each. Which isn't huge, but it's enough to add up over 4 levels. Derfland pears are produced through regional control of Derfland or through Gardening only. Odds are, you're not going to find any on the AH. You can try to farm up the honey portion of this to offset some of the cost, but it's easier to just set aside some money to blow here. My experiences say it takes about 18-24 synths/level beyond 60, so an average worst case scenario here is that you're going to lose about 30k gil in this stretch. You can make that by farming some scrolls up pretty easily. You can attempt to sell these on the AH as well, but you'll need a lot of inventory space and some patience. They do sell, but usually only if there aren't any Pamama Au Lait up. Make these to cap if you don't have Raw Fish handling yet.

Recipe: Water Crystal, 2x Derfland Pears, 1x Honey, 1x Selbina Milk.
Cap: Level 72

Same deal as Bream Sushi. Gugru Tuna are common catches on the various boats using the right fishing set up. Their skill cap makes them easy to catch early on, but unlike Mercanbaligi or Bastore Breams, they do not stack. Make to cap if you have Raw Fish handling and round up your ingredients per usual.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Gugru Tuna, 1x Tarutaru Rice, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Rice Vinegar, 1x Ground Wasabi
Cap: Level 77

These still end up being the same sort of loss as it's Pear counterpart if you NPC the results, but they do sell on the AH rather frequently at a profit. Buying all the materials from NPC will usually double your money on the AH. Make these to cap and turn in some Whitefish Stew as you cross 78.

Recipe: Water Crystal, 2x Pamamas, 1x Honey, 1x Selbina Milk
Cap: Level 81

Phase 3: Curry And Pie. Meal Of Champions.

Just adding up the NPC-purchased items, you're going to be sitting at approx. 3.5k per synth. Add in the Coeurl Meat that's missing and you'll likely be around 4-4.5k/synth. Coeurl Meat isn't super difficult to farm and there are a lot of them available to kill in Zi'Tah. However, the rest of the synth doesn't really have an alternate way of obtaining the materials other than through the various NPCs that sell them. You can opt to sell the curry itself (which isn't stackable) on the AH or you can opt to turn it into Yellow Curry Buns. You'll likely make the same amount of money either way, but the buns will sell faster and take up less inventory space. The other good news with turning them into buns is that there's only one HQ level that gives you more of the NQ buns and it's only 2 more buns. This means prices are likely to stay relatively stable even if you NQ all of them. Definitely make these to cap.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Curry Powder, 1x Coeurl Meat, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Popoto, 1x Selbina Milk, 1x Tumeric, 1x Wild Onion
Cap: Level 85

A staple of most mages, although some could make the argument it's not used as widely as it used to be with the implementation of other foods. Since they're a T1 only food, they tend to have a stable price range. You're in decent HQ range for Pie Dough at this point too (almost T3). Make these to cap and turn in some Seafood Stew for your final rank up item.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Bird Egg, 1x Gelatin, 1x Maple Sugar, 1x Pie Dough, 1x Rolanberry, 1x San d'Orian Flour, 1x Selbina Milk
Cap: Level 90

Phase 4: Julia Child Never Had It This Bad...

This is a popular tanking food, especially for the aspiring PLDs in the process of leveling up. It follows the same pattern as the rest of the sushi you've made so far, but you might be hard pressed to find the Noble Lady that's required to make it. Be patient (or hire out a fisherman with the right equipment/level) and make this to cap.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Noble Lady, 1x Tarutaru Rice, 1x Ground Wasabi, 1x Rice Vinegar, 1x Distilled Water
Cap: Level 93

Very popular for melee jobs prior to 50 for the sole reason of it's cost vs. benefits. NQ'ing every synth here will be a slight loss (farm your dhalmel meat to offset this). Everything here can be bought from an NPC, but double check the AH to make sure someone isn't selling some of the ingredients for less than the NPCs do. Make to cap and sell.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Bamboo Stick, 1x Coral Fungus, 1x Dhalmel Meat, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Sticky Rice, 1x Rock Salt, 1x Maple Sugar
Cap: Level 95

This is here primarily as an optional bridge synth. Making this means you're going to lose a ton of money due to the Fresh Mugwort prices. These cakes don't actually sell very well, but from 95 up, there really aren't many spammable options. Most just opt to skip to the next synth or try to make Cursed Soup.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Cinnamon, 1x Fresh Mugwort, 1x Sticky Rice, 1x Gardenia Seed, 1x Maple Sugar, 1x Distilled Water
Cap: Level 99

Most popular means of finishing Cooking off, but you're sorely limited by options here. There are exactly TWO items in the vast array of recipes for Cooking that will actually cap you at 100. This one relies on your ability to catch Dragon Meat on the AH. It's expensive, but Red Curry, like it's Yellow Curry counterpart, can be turned into other foods that sell for a rather large profit.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Coriander, 1x Curry Powder, 1x Dragon Meat, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Kazham Peppers, 1x Mithran Tomato, 1x San d'Orian Carrot.
Cap: Level 100

I mentioned Cursed Soup earlier and while the materials are generally available and relatively cheap, you're going to be parked in Crawler's Nest or Wajoam Woodlands killing bees for Royal Jelly. It is definitely a cheaper option to make than Red Curry though. If you're moving onto this from Rice Dumplings, then you can easily expect average about 24 synths/level. That's a ton of time. This is why most people opt to stick with Red Curry.

Recipe: Water Crystal, 1x Kitron, 1x Persikos, 1x Honey, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Royal Jelly
Cap: Level 100

And with that, you're now eligible to join the cast of Food Network's "Next Top Chef" (or whatever the hell that show is called).

Next week, Smithing and Blaize.

POL News: The Mog Bonanza is back.

So its back! With the usual host of goodies and loot for players to drool over, and inevitably not win! Just like real life /grin. Yes I know, I am deeply cynical.

BUT! Since you are a scrooooge if you don't! All the details of the prizes are available to drool over here

Yes yes, I know, a miniscule post, but what is there to say, buy balls for gil, win stuff hopefully, suffer a month of -10 inventory space!. That is really all there is to it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mr QQ Says: POL Maintenance

SE are performing a server maintenance to the POL face to FFXI, on the 23rd November, which will take down FFXI and Tetra Master.

Expected times of maintenance:

8:00am - 13:00pm PST
10:00am - 15:00pm EST
4:00pm - 21:00pm GMT

Presumably "fixing stuff" LoL.

Nice to finally see whom ever is writing the system messages finally gets GMT time, rather than the last 4 years of always being wrong by an hour. /amused.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Real Life Happens To Other People: POL Shantotto Art Winners Announced.

SE have released the winners of the Shantotto Art Competition held to celebrate the release of the add-on featuring our favourite psychotic female Black Mage from Windurst.

As per usual the quality and standard of the entries selected is very high, my personal favourite was the pop-up book, I liked the creativity behind it as much as anything else, although the winning image is dynamic, exciting and brings Shantotto to life.

Have a check in the news section on POL's website for all of the superb entries for this event.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grist for the Rumor Mill: FFXIV betas picked from FFXI HNMs?

*WARNING* This is just an uncorroborated rumor! *WARNING*
Yeah, I don't believe it either, and even the person that told me is high skeptical. I am more trying to get in front of this before the mindless repeaters get a hold of it. The newest rumor going around about FFXIV betas is that SE is going to give the beta invites to the best HNM LS's in FFXI.

Before you get started there are about a million problems with this, and I don't think it is true at all. First off SE has never done anything like this before. They have never even recognized the fact that there are "HNM LS's" as opposed to other kinds of LS's. How would they even determine what an "HNM LS's" is? Second, SE has already said how their beta testing is going to work and that while there will be a closed beta for a while with limited groups, there will be an open beta by the end. So even if this were true the closed beta testing would only be for a limited time. Third, it just doesn't make any sense. Everyone wants to get in on the beta, limiting it to HNM LS's would definitely leave a bad taste in the mouth's of non-HNM LS members. I don't think this is the kind of thing that SE wants to put forward. Finally and in the same vein, why would SE invite HNM LS's to a closed beta when they have been playing up how casual-friendly FFXIV is supposed to be.

There are now two groups of people reading this: The HNM LS members that are hoping it is true, and the non-HNM LS members that are hoping it is not true. And you might be saying "Hey, Ring! You aren't in an HNM LS, so that is the only reason you are poo-pooing the idea." and in response I would give you the /facepalm. You have to remember that there is NO evidence that this is the case now, except for a few things I have heard through various other people. The "cousin's friend's postman's dog told me" scenario. The only reason I am reporting it at all is that I trust the person that passed along the information in as much that he passed along what he heard and that he didn't make it up. He was pretty clear when he told me about it and stated that he didn't think much of it either because there were just too many things that didn't make sense.

There are a few things that could support the idea. First, and everyone's favorite reason: SE makes a lot of bad decisions. That one pretty much stands on it's own. Second, it's a beta. Beta's are not the real game and therefore it doesn't have to be equal before the game is released.

There are major issues with those ideas too, but I am not going to debate out every little detail here. Instead, I will just conclude that it is so far from realistic as to be laughable. Actually, I think the thing that motivates such a rumor is that someone was feeling like SE is ignoring all of the "hard work" they did playing FFXI, and that giving out betas to the "HNM LS's" would be a proper reward for a new game. This is kind of pathetic when you think about it, but I can understand they psychology of someone starting a rumor like that.

In the end, it might just happen, but I give it less than a 1%.

POL News: FFXI Collection on Steam.

So my first reaction to this was... what is Steam!? LOL, after a bit of investigating on the rarely explored EU version of POL, it is only NA specific. Ok, my curiosity is piqued, so I checked out the Japanese portal for FFXI as well, very interesting. Generally I only ever look at the NA version of the site as it provides me with all the information and Europe tends to get gyped on the "fun activities" front.

ANYWAY, I digress, if you feel the need to buy the whole game over, or want to start from scratch you can now get your hands on it digitally via Steam. Which appears to be a downloadable content website and community.

Seriously what is it with every site these days having to invent it own version of facebook/myspace/twitter, I don't use any of the aformentioned, its bad enough that I invest all my time in an online game, and while I love the community I am involved with online, I don't want to create a more empty version of that elsewhere.

Just feels like every website you sign up for now wants to "create a community", which kind of ends up spreading you a bit thin doesn't it, although its impressive to what level people will go to generate that. Oh well /end rant. ^.^ Its available for $19.99, which is pretty darn cheap for everything.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

POL News: The release of the Do-It-Yourself Wedding Kit.

As previously promised, SE have finally released the website that will allow FFXI players to design and create their very own weddings in this new fully automated service.

Giving the player base the power to select objects, create messages and personalise the event to your hearts content. As well as the outfits and rings, players also gain a wedding certificate to hang up in their moghouse, just like real life.

The website does give pretty detailed instructions on how to make sure everything goes to plan, all you have to make sure is that you aren't left at the altar, but be you the twitchy groom or the blushing bride, you can enjoy this special event.

I can't actually be too snarky about this, LOL as I did get hitched ingame to Ringthree ^.^ And I still have all the pictures to prove it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Morning in Vana'diel: Coolest thing ever!

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! I added something new that I think is pretty neat. A big thank you to FFXI AH!

This isn't an interesting or in-depth MiV post. It is one of those post where I get more excited about something than you. Go ahead and roll your eyes and laugh. I added something new to the site and I am pretty proud that I got it done. :)

From now on we will have Tooltips from FFXIAH.com for any gear that we will be talking about? Remember that Othinus' Bow from yesterday? Really interested in that new Thrakon Breastplate? Really want to know if that new Virtuoso Belt is going to be better than your old, reliable Warwolf Belt?

All you need to do is hover over the links and you will be able to see the stats! I have been trying to get this to work for a long time and I finally just got around to doing this. :) I hope you like and I hope it helps!

Critical Break: 60-100 Series: Alchemy

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 continues his 60-100 series with the fifth installment: Alchemy.

Alchemy was easy to get to 60. Beyond that is a different story though. While not the hardest to get to 100 from a financial standpoint, it is difficult mostly due to the sheer number of materials you need for the various items that are actually cheap or farmable to skill up on. It's also compounded by the fact that some of the items you do need aren't readily available on the AH in large quantities and the critters they drop from aren't exactly the easiest in the world to solo.

Asking the three fundamental questions of Alchmey gets us the following observations:

Does it have consumables? A ton. Alchemy is likely ranked second behind Cooking in the consumables department. Once you reach T3 status on various medicines like Silent Oils, Prism Powders, etc, cash won't necessarily be rolling in, but it's good enough to make an in-game living off of.

Does it have in-demand end-game gear? It has the Wyrmal Abjuration set. That's about it. It doesn't really have any decent weapons aside from a Gold Algol, a Stun Kukri or a Hawker's Knife. You can definitely make some money off HQ'ing a few of the Wyrmal pieces, but again, the real money maker in Alchemy is in the consumables.

Does it have in-demand mid-range gear? No. This craft is an abomination only outdone by Cooking in terms of mid-range gear. Cooking at least makes sense. I'm not sure how many of you wear Marinara Pizza for armor, but I don't. Same thing mostly applies to Alchemy, only Alchemy tends to enhance other weapons and armors through potions. Even then...there's not much there at all.

Phase 1: Venom Dust and Potions Sprinkled With a Side of Sleep Bolts

Go to Crawler's Nest and farm scorpion claws. Make a lot of these as you'll be using them later. If you want to eliminate the crystal cost, run out to Behemoth's Dominion and kill some lightning elementals.

Recipe: Lightning Crystal, 2x Scorpion Claw
Cap: Level 61

A continuation of the above. This is listed here in case you're a fisherman or have the inside track to any of the fish that are used in this synth. Since it's just one level, it shouldn't take a horrible amount of time to do. Scorpion claws are easier to obtain than the fish here, but it's feasible for you to just skip the Scorpion Claw synth altogether and do this one, especially if you're skilling up fishing to boot.

Recipe: Lightning Crystal, 2x Ogre Eel
Recipe: Lightning Crystal, 1x Monke-Onke
Recipe: Lightning Crystal, 1x Istavrit
Cap: Level 62

If you have Woodworking at 60, this is a good way to make some money. If not, just sell the heads on the AH. They don't sell incredibly fast, but they do sell and at a profit if you farmed up the sleepshrooms (Crawler's Nest is your friend again). You're still not high enough to reliably HQ the sleeping potions here, but if you happened to have some left over from the 0-60 guide, use 'em up. Make sure you make your own animal glue and bronze ingots for this as buying them off the AH will eat into your profits.

Make note of the fact that you need Smithing at or around 14 before making these.

Also note that you do not have to cap on these. You can do a few levels of these, then cap on the next synth.

Recipe: Wind Crystal, 1x Bronze Ingot, 1x Animal Glue, 1x Sleeping Potion
Cap: Level 67

Time to use up the venom dust you made earlier. Save these for a later synth as well in case you don't have the Anima Synthesis key item just yet. Turn in an Acid Kukri when you cap on these.

Recipe: Water Crystal, 1x Venom Dust, 1x Mercury
Cap: Level 68

Phase 2: Floor 2: Animas and More Bolts

You will need to have Anima Synthesis for this part. Animas play a role in a lot of useful, consumable synths. Namely reraise items. They're also used for various parts of Artifact Upgrade items. The trick here was to stick with the less expensive, yet in demand animas. Reraise items use Water, Light and Lightning animas. Unfortunately, on Odin at least, Somber Clusters (used in water) are idiotically priced. Radiant clusters (Light) are the cheapest of the three and in steady supply usually. Startling clusters (Lightning) fall in between. Also note that the crystal you will need will correspond with the element of the memories you're using.

Sulfur and Mercury are usually cheap enough on the AH to make money off of this synth. Buy your rock salt from a vendor and make to cap.

Recipe: Light Crystal, 1x Rock Salt, 1x Mercury, 1x Sulfur, 4x Radiant Memories
Cap: Level 75

Same as above if you're out of Light Anima materials.

Recipe: Light Crystal, 1x Rock Salt, 1x Mercury, 1x Sulfur, 4x Startling Memories
Cap: Level 75

This is either going to be good for 2-3 levels (if you run out of Anima materials) or work as a simple bridge synth. Either way, cap on these and use up your Venom Potions you made earlier. You will make a little money on these bolt heads. If you happen to have Woodworking at 60 or a mule, turn them into the bolts for even more money.

Be mindful of the level 14 Smithing sub here.

Recipe: Wind Crystal, 1x Animal Glue, 1x Bronze Ingot, 1x Venom Potion
Cap: Level 76

These sell for a profit as well. Definitely make to cap here and either AH the stack of heads or turn them into bolts for sale. They're a popular item for soloing THFs. Turn in an X-Potion when you hit 78.

Again, be mindful of the Smithing sub at 14.

Recipe: Wind Crystal, 1x Bronze Ingot, 1x Revival Tree Root, 1x Beastmen Blood
Cap: Level 81

Phase 3: Floor 3: One Level Increments, {You can have this.}

The idea here is for you to make your own holy water and to farm up your own ram skins to turn into leather. You can NPC the results and not lose money (which is unusual for crafts this high) as long as you keep your costs below 800 gil ea. Kill a few light clusters in sky to offset the light crystal cost.

Recipe: Light Crystal, 1x Holy Water, 1x Ram Leather
Cap: Level 87

These are a pain to farm and a pain to catch on the AH. From this point forward, I wouldn't expect to make huge skill gains in one sitting. Dried Marjoram and Distilled Water are both sold by NPC. You'll need to catch the Treant Bulbs on the AH (usually around 1k/stack). The trouble with these primarily are the Ahriman Wings. They're in short supply on the AH and there's usually ton of people camping the AH for them. Make these to cap and sell on AH. As long as you pay attention to what they sell for and keep your cost below it, you'll be fine. Turn in a Bloody Sword for your final rank item when you hit 88.

Recipe: Light Crystal, 1x Treant Bulb, 1x Distilled Water, 3x Dried Marjoram, 1x Ahriman Wing
Cap: Level 89

Make your own beeswax and farm up your giant bird feathers to help offset the loss of skilling on these. Usually they're about break even on the AH, but at times they dip below cost. Sell on the AH. Stacks do sell on the AH as well as long as you keep them around 60k/stack.

Recipe: Wind Crystal, 2x Beeswax, 6x Giant Bird Feather
Cap: Level 93

These are commonly used for zergs and used in conjunction with Culverins. There usually aren't that many stacks of these up on the AH at a time, but they do sell when they're up there. Making your own materials for it will be somewhat time consuming, but you will make money here. Bomb arms also drop pretty frequently in Ifrit's Cauldron, so farming there gets you 2 of the materials you need pretty quickly. A profitable level this late in the crafting game is a good thing.

Be mindful of the Smithing 34 and Goldsmithing 18 subs.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Bomb Arm, 1x Brass Ingot, 2x Firesand, 1x Iron Ingot
Cap: Level 94

This is a skippable synth. It's a slight loss unless you set up a deal with some dynamis shells or members of your own dynamis group. It's loss isn't significant enough to be too worrisome and you've probably made some gil up to this point. Save a couple to sell on the AH to make up for the loss (used in the Relic Gun). Otherwise NPC the results.

Recipe: Water Crystal, 1x Slime Juice, 1x Goblin Grease
Cap: Level 95

This is pretty much just like the previous synth. See if you can work up a deal with groups doing Dynamis San d'Oria or Dynamis Beaucedine for Fresh Orc Livers that drop. All of the other materials are things you can make or buy for rather cheap. It will still NPC for a loss, but again, not much of one. However, with a 4 level gap here, you can opt to use this as a bridge to the next synth or just make to cap. Either way you go, you're going to be losing about the same amount of gil/synth.

Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Venom Dust, 1x Paralysis Dust, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Fresh Orc Liver, 1x Mercury
Cap: Level 99

Alchemists really get the shaft at this point. They have exactly 3 synths that they can even attempt to skill up on. One is a weapon that's a 100k loss in the form of a Gold Algol. Another is Sun Water used to summon a cactuar pet that amounts to a 10k loss and praying you catch Philosopher's stones on the AH. The last is this Pro-Ether. On a good day, you're going to lose about 4k/synth here. Add in the fact that farming up the most expensive part of this synth (Ahriman Wings) is just completely time consuming even with TH4 and it just adds to an already high level of frustration at trying to finish this off. I don't envy you Alchemists at this point. All I can really say is good luck finishing it off and work the other synths to make up for the financial loss here.

Recipe: Water Crystal, 2x Ahriman Wing, 1x Treant Bulb, 3x Dried Marjoram, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Wyvern Wing.
Cap: Level 100

With the exception of the last stretch, Alchemy isn't too bad to level financially. Having this at 100 now, you're in position to make a lot of money off consumables. Silent Oils, Prism Powders, Eye Drops, etc are all common medicines bought for various events. Don't pigeon-hole yourself into one or two items though. With the wide variety of consumables that Alchemy has to offer, do a little studying on what supplies are out there and make your decisions from there.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Let's talk about Ranger: What to Shoot.

This has been a long time coming, and I still don't feel that comfortable talking about it but I need to do this so I might as well dive right in. This post is the beginning in a series of Ranger articles, because there is just too much to talk about for Ranger in just one post, or even a couple.

I will say it right now, and this might change in a couple of days but I am not positive that it will so I am going to say it anyway: Ranger is one of the most complicated jobs in the game. It is complicated because of the gearing, it is complicated because of the amount of hate that it can quickly generate, it is complicated because of the wide variety of ways to play it, and it is complicated because it is the only job that essentially does not have auto-attack. There may be jobs that are more busy than Ranger, or require more gear than Ranger, but there are no jobs that have three viable weapon builds before you consider subjobs or even their main weapon slot.

Ok, if Ranger is so complicated where do you start a discussion about Ranger? I think the best place to start is deciding what you are going to be shooting at things. All three of the potential options are viable in reality, and there is a lot of preference that is involved in this decision-making process. I believe there are three relatively easily accessible end-game weapons for each of the builds and I will go over each of them. The most important thing to remember is that I am approaching this from a "On the cheap" perspective. There may be better, more expensive or harder to get weapons available, but if you are reading this guide for information on how to gear your Ranger you may not have access to these yet. The options that I am suggesting are ones that should be available to anyone that just hit 75.

Archery: Selene's Bow

The Selene's Bow really is an easy to get alternative to the Eurytos' Bow. There are two things that make it stand out; the damage and, oddly enough, the longer delay. The damage is pretty high for a bow, even higher than a Eurytos' Bow, and this means more damage per shot and more damage per WS. The longer delay is actually good because it makes it that much easier to get to an X-hit build, either 6 or 5 depending on what sub job you want to use. We will get into gearing for a 6 or 5 hit build in another post.

There are of course other alternatives to the Selene's Bow, like the Eurytos' Bow like I mentioned above, as well as the Fay Gendawa when it is properly augmented. As for ammunition I think Demon Arrows are great here. They can get a bit pricey but if you can get them while they are low they can have a very good/shot ratio. For WS, you can use Kabura Arrows which are nice, but can get to be very pricey. Some people even like to use Kabura for building TP, but this is really expensive and isn't really something I would encourage. Finally, try picking up a Patriarch Protector Arrow too, but be careful with it and don't just shoot it off without Unlimited Shot up. :)

Crossbow: There is a lot more variety when it comes to good Crossbows, but when it comes to the best it is always going to be the Othinus' Bow. It has the highest damage for a Crossbow in the game, but it also has the highest delay. Hell, it's damage and delay are even better than Annihilator. I think the stats on the O Bow may be a relic from a past time in FFXI when the programmers had something else planned for the stats in the game, because it is radically out of line with other crossbows in the game. While the delay is higher, it still isn't that bad and it increases your TP per shot meaning you can get WS more often with more Store TP.

The ammo options for Crossbow are two-fold. You can go with the traditional Darksteel Bolt build, which will next you very good damage but it is still rather expensive. I am not positive what the comparison is to Kabura Arrows, but Demon Arrows are a better fill in than what you have after Darksteel Bolts. The traditional alternative are Holy Bolts. The thing about Holy Bolts is that it requires a different build than normal, meaning you need more gear with more MND on it to increase the additional effect. This is up to you, one is very cheap but has a lot more variation in damage, the other is pretty expensive but has much more reliable damage. For WS you can still use Darksteel Bolts, or you can use a Gold Musketeer's Bolt for when Unlimited Shot is up.

Guns: This is where my knowledge really lacks because I have never been willing to give up the gil necessary to get to the extra damage that Gun builds can offer. That being said, there are several decent Guns that are available to RNG but Hellfire +1 really stands out with good base stats and good additional stats. A Murderer might be an option too, but I don't really know how well compare. In the end these guns are very strong because of their high damage ammo, not so much because of their individual stats.

The ammo for guns is even more limited than Crossbows or Bows. I would assume the default are Silver Bullets. This is a very expensive option but it is the way to go for Guns I assume. You could use Steel Bullets too, but I think that would actually be more expensive for less damage on most servers. Your WS can still use Silver Bullets because those are the highest damage bullets out there, and there is no CP reward bullet either.

The Culverin? Skip it for now, that is almost worth another post in itself.

Morning in Vana'diel: Polls.

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! Now with more thoughts and input on the interesting topics of the day!™So, I have been thinking about how to make the site a little more interactive and get a little bit more input when it comes to the topics that people want to hear about. I think that polls might be the easiest way to do this. Now, I don't know if you know this already but I am not a programming genius. I am not even up to programming retard yet. :) But I think it should be pretty easy to find a little script or something that will let me post up some polls. Then the site will totally be interactive!

I think it might be time to do another "On the Cheap" post and getting input on the job that should be next will be much easier than trying to get responses out of the comments section. Also, you will be able to voice your opinion on the quality of changes, updates and other things that SE is providing. So, give me a couple of days and hopefully by the end of the week I will have a working poll system. Remember though, that just because I am posting polls now doesn't mean you have to stop telling me how dumb my ideas are in the comments.

Friday, November 13, 2009

POL News: The Ultimate FFXI Collection.

I find this release a little amusing, but here goes. SE have released the full works for FFXI all in one bundle, so you can get the original game, all the expansions and all the add-ons for a cozy little price of $20.

For those people who didn't buy the add-ons the first time around, it seems more of an investment to just buy the entire game all over again and get them that way rather than have bought them individually as the majority of us players will have done.

To soup up things a bit, they have released a new trailer to advertise their product, and while I am fairly skeptical of corporate fleecing activities like this, I do have to say I rather like the artwork for the set. It is funny, poking around the site they have to flog each incarnation of the game they have, I have never been to it before having had all my games bought from the shops or just downloaded via POL.

At a time where waning interest in a game that feels abandoned to drift along in the shadow of FFXIV is prevelant, I view the release of a box set like this with deep cynicism. Just looking at the server load on Odin last night: it was low, unusually low for the time of day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mr QQ Says: Emergency maintenance!

Perhaps none-too surprising as it has happened every single time there has been an update in the history of updates in FFXI, servers will be going down for a while today from 9:00am - 11:00am (PST) while they fix what they cocked up in the update.

12:00noon to 2:00pm (EST)
5:00pm to 7:00pm (GMT)

Critical Break: 60-100 Series: Leathercraft

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 continues his 60-100 series with the fourth installment: Leathercraft. This week's special guess editor/commentator/contributor: Mr. Ninja "Don't call me Connie" Fox

In researching how to get to 100 for this craft, one thing dawned on me...

This is insanely cheap and easy to get to 89 if you go out and farm and not real painful at all to get to 100. The last 11 levels will probably annoy most people due to the number of non-stackable items you have to lug around plus the forced waiting for wyvern skins, but compared to other crafts, man it's easy.

The things you go out to farm have great drop rates and generally have accessible Outpost warps or NPCs you can unload your inventory to. On top of that, the creatures you're farming drop other things you can AH for a good chunk of change. It does no good though for you to be able to get to 100 rather easily if you can't do anything with it, so here's the prerequisite questions:

Does it have consumables? Not really unless you count the various leathers. This is one thing that Leather is rather weak on as it does not have a true consumable that's noteworthy. While the leathers generally sell for a nice profit and at times, very fast, you won't be making a ton of money here in the volume selling department.

Does it have in-demand end-game gear? Again, not really. The Dusk set has a few pieces that are worth buying (at least until you get Homam for some jobs), but without a true cursed set to make, Leather is pretty much stuck with the odds and ends of various sets (usually shoes) like the Errant, Sha'ir or Blessed sets along with various mantles like the Cerberus Mantle.

Does it have in-demand mid-range gear? Yes. Items from the Amemet Mantle+1 to the Byrnie+1. You can reach the T2 HQ level on a number of synths with this craft that sell for a decent-outstanding profit margin. I wouldn't go so far to say that this is the best craft by far for mid-range stuff, but it's up there.

This may be one of the reasons why the various leathers don't sell for a loss as there aren't really that many other synths along the way that can absorb it. There are no HQ (Higher-Quantity in this case) leather synths, so everyone making the leather is stuck with the same results no matter what level they are if they can make the synth.

If I had to give Leather one big thumbs up that other crafts don't have, it's definitely market stability and that may be the single biggest reason why it's easy and cheap to get to 100.

Ninjafox's Intro: : I hope you all fall in a hole. I hope you all get caught in your zippers. You need Clothcraft for a lot of Leather gear, so level it. Then level smithing.

Read on for how.

Phase 1: Ninjafox's Favorite Skin - Cockatrice

As the previous two guides have begun, it's a continuation of the 0-60 guide I previous wrote. Cap on these and save 'em. Hopefully you've been farming these up. It really wouldn't hurt to make about eleventy-billion stacks of these for later use.

Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Tiger, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves
Cap: Level 61

The title to this section alludes to this stretch. You're going to be spending a lot of time in Onzozo where the cocks are plenty. You can make some money on the side selling the stacks of cock meat on the AH. Otherise, load up a few stacks of grass thread and earth crystals and head out there to farm those cocks. NPC your results, these don't sell on the AH at all.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Grass Thread, 2x Cockatrice Skin
Cap: Level 63

If farming cocks isn't your thing, you can delay the inevitable by going to farm bugards instead. Pretty much the same deal as the Beak Mantles in terms of drop rates and what to do with the results only your inventory is going to be in pain from all the non-stackable items these things drop. Sell any HQ skins or tusks you get for decent amount of money (usually in the 5k ea. range) and cap.

Recipe: Wind Crystal, 2x Bugard Leather
Cap: Level 63

If you thought you could avoid the cocks, you're wrong. Go to Onzozo with some (hopefully) home-made sheep leather and earth crystals in tow and get ready to jerkin your cock skins. Sell the cock meat on the AH for some extra money and NPC the jerkins.

Turn in a pair of Battle Boots to pick up your Artisan rank once you hit 68. If you get bored out of your skull farming these things, it's rather safe to move onto the next synth around 66 or so. Or just skip it altogether and spend gobs of time with coeurls in The Sanctuary of Zi'Tah if you want to prolong the skillup process.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 2x Cockatrice Skin, 1x Sheep Leather
Cap: Level 69

Phase 2: Elephants, Coeurls and Tigers - Indigenous Creatures From Ninjafox's Homeland

Ninjafox Comment: Make sure you keep plenty of Coeurl Leather around for future synths.

Very in demand leather and easy to farm too. In the NW section of Zi'Tah, there is a loop you can run just mauling Coeurls. Save the whiskers and the meat for AH sales (more the meat than the whiskers) and turn the hides into leather. Definitely cap on these.

Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Coeurl Hide, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves, 1x Distilled Water
Cap: Level 71

If your Clothcraft is 35 or higher, spend some time making 2-4 stacks of wool thread by farming sheepskin from the Highlands. If not, you should probably move onto the next synth as this is listed here primarily as a bridge synth. Head back out to your favorite tiger farming spot and farm some more hides. Cap on these if you choose, NPC the results and move on to the next synth.

Recipe: Ice Crystal, 1x Tiger Hide, 1x Wool Thread
Cap: Level 75

This is used for Salvage feet and profitable. Especially if you can solo marids for the hides. The stacks themselves usually sell faster than the singles due to people generally being lazy or due to there rarely being 12 singles listed on the AH (at least on Odin). Pick up your Imperial Tea Leaves off the AH, make to cap, sell and profit.

Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Marid Hide, 1x Imperial Tea Leaves, 1x Distilled Water
Cap: Level 76

And back to Zi'Tah you go. This is mostly optional as not everyone can really handle the Manticores in the next synth. Pick up a few stacks of cotton thread from the Weaver's Guild at it's cheapest point (~120gil), head out to Zi'Tah and start farming those hides again. Make to cap if you choose.

Turn in a pair of Tiger Gloves once you hit 78 for your Adept rank and NPC your results.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Coeurl Hide, 1x Cotton Thread
Cap: Level 79

Phase 3: WOOHOO! Done With Coe---DAMN!

Ninjafox Comment: Cuir Gear is like Jesus Juice for some other gear not mentioned in this span if you want to make actual gear.

Manticores aren't all that easy to deal with compared to what you've been fighting/farming so far, but their leather does sell rather decently. You can also sell their other parts for a bit of money too even though they don't stack. Make these to cap, sell your results on the AH.

Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Manticore Hide, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves
Cap: Level 80

This is a new synth added in the July '09 update. The Ruszor hides sell for rather cheap on the AH and the leather sells for more. The leather has only one purpose outside of skilling up and that's in the Tsukomo. I wouldn't expect these to move fast, but they will move and as long as you're smart with your buying, you should make a little money. You can also skip this synth if you want and go straight to the next one.

Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Ruszor Hide, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves
Cap: Level 83

And back to Zi'Tah you go yet again. Take a few stacks of Wool Thread with you too. Fortunately, if the zone is controlled by any nation and you have the outpost warp, there's an NPC nearby that you can take advantage of to dump off inventory once it gets full. Make to cap.

Recipe: Ice Crystal, 1x Coeurl Hide, 1x Wool Thread
Cap: Level 85

Farm up about 7-8 stacks of Coeurl Leather and half as many Sheep Leather and make these to cap. Then say good bye to easy farming as, up to this point, you could have essentially gotten here making a ton of money along the way.

Turn in a Coeurl Mask for your final rank: Veteran.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 2x Coeurl Leather, 1x Sheep Leather
Cap: Level 89

Phase 4: Masking the Monetary Loss

The vast majority of this synth you can farm up. I'd recommend making a stockpile of the hides, leathers and threads used in this synth and then just camping the AH for wyvern skins as they aren't listed in huge numbers very often. If you're only paying for the skins themselves, then you're going to be close to breaking even on the rest. This will definitely require you to have Clothcraft at 35 or higher for the wool thread portion of it.

This is likely the largest gap you've had to deal with so far, but given the alternatives between 89-here, this is far cheaper and far less risky. Hopefully you've made an extra few hundred thousand gil from farming up the other stuff so that you can absorb the losses if you choose to buy everything off the AH.

Recipe: Ice Crystal, 2x Tiger Hide, 1x Wool Thread, 1x Ram Leather, 1x Wyvern Skin
Cap: Level 95

Since the next synth has a cap of 102, a bridge is in order. These are used in the final Gobbiebag quest as well as a couple of the more popular Relic Weapon quests and some of the AF2+1 quests. As of this writing, the leathers sell for a little less than the hides (which only drop from Orcs in Dynamis) on Odin inexplicably, but it shouldn't be too difficult to correct that and break even. Definitely cap on these and have patience.

Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Griffon Hide, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves
Cap: Level 97

Until the Wahlahra Turban came out, these used to be one of the best hats the jobs that can wear it could use. Now it's more for show than anything else. With the implementation of Augments, these have picked up a little bit of new life, but they still sell for a loss. Treat this the same way that you treated the tiger mask. Stockpile the various leathers, hides and threads used and camp the AH for the wyvern skins. You'll be spending some time killing the Toramas in Onzozo for the HQ hides as they have a great drop rate there.

Recipe: Ice Crystal, 2x H.Q. Coeurl Hides, 1x Wool Thread, 1x Ram Leather, 1x Wyvern Skin
Cap: Level 100 (102)

Congrats! You're now at 100 and ready to make some money.

Ninjafox Comment: I hope you fall into the abyss if you undercut me.