Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CoP Uncapped: More Thoughts.

I did a little pondering on how I thought the old/new/old CoP zones are going to turn out when their level cap is removed.

Starter Promyvions: All are pretty easy to get around in. All have tiers/level that could have mobs of increasing levels. These could be a good place to have some decent leveling areas. They have decreased the numbers of mobs and made navigation easier in these zones, and now they will probably have to undo that. Also, I believe these zones are considered "inside" zones and thus have the generally triple respawn timers which could be a big problem unless you plan on changing floors. Strays have major XP exploit potential.

Promyvion-Vahzl: If the starter promyvions are going to be leveling areas what is Vahzl going to be? Not only that but Vahzl is only accessed through another area that is having it's level cap removed, though the trip to Vahzl is not really far even if there are more mobs and the trip is more difficult. The areas are a bit bigger in Vahzl, and you can get to each level easily from the entrance to the zone. There are more of the mini-NM Empty mobs in this zone, so the going might be a little more rough. This might be one of the merit places at 80, if the other Promyvions are leveling areas. Oh, and remember when the "hall of death" was there, before they moved the mobs around to make it slightly less deathy? I wonder if they will be returning those mobs to their original position? That would be merit central if the levels are right.

Pso'Xja: This one is going to be interesting. This zone is already broken up over a wide area. Most of the zones are decently sized, but some are just fractional areas and probably will still be of limited use. The weird thing is that some of them are already uncapped, so will SE just leave these as they are? While it might be interesting to see what happens, I think these zones will still largely be under-utilized.

Phomiuna Aquaducts and Sacrarium: Here is an illustration of the problems with just opening up these CoP zones. What are we going to do with mobs that cast Doom? People want to XP on pretty pink and ultimately defenseless birds. They don't want to XP on mobs that could kill them if they don't turn away fast enough. Don't get me wrong. I like this zone. The maze is really cool, the rest of the area is great and well designed. Fomors aren't even that bad, but it's going to be hard to put together a bones party again. You just can't go back. Maybe you can if SE completely reinvents the entire zone, but I just don't see that happening.

Riverne - Site #B01 and Riverne - Site #A01: God I love these zones. They are gorgeous, bright and thrilling. You actually get the feeling you are high up in the sky. Problem is that no one wants to XP on Hippogryphs and Wyverns. Nihility Song and Fang Rush over Pecking Flurry and Feather Tickle is never going to cut it. Bombs? Marlboro? Even having to get the Wyvern scales is just going to be too annoying. I want these zones to work. I really, really, really do, but it's going to take some effort on SE's part.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Leaving the Cap Off.

With SE's new vision of focusing almost exclusively on end-game (took them long enough), opening the CoP zones is a "free" way to add new content without much work. Tweak some mob levels and you get a whole series of zones that people are familiar with but no one ever uses. I think it's a good idea, and an easy way to cut some corners on development time and costs.

But with every good idea comes the complainers and most of the complainers this time are the old players that are bitter that everyone else is going to have it "easy" now. CoP missions were added back in the day, they were challenging, but not difficult. The problem really arouse when some players that did no work, no research and no preparation assumed that they should waltz right through the new content. FFXI was designed to be intensely challenging. It was too challenging for people that just wanted to brute force their way through the fights and not prepare for each fight with the necessary items. These were not fights you could just leech through, everyone had to do their part.

FFXI doesn't have any of the boss fight add-on's you would find in other games (though honestly, it wouldn't be that hard to make one I don't think) so it really punished those that didn't do their homework. People still whine about it to this day, but ultimately every fight had a gimmick item that could be used to nerf the mob you were fighting. A lot of people still believe that you had to have certain job set ups to do the fights, but those are the same people that never researched the fights to find out how easy they really were.

It may be the end of an era, but it is the beginning of a new one at the same time. FFXI was, is and never will be WoW. It is a more challenging game, and that is the reason it will never be as popular as WoW.

Was CoP cool and challenging back when we did it? Yes.

Is CoP now hard to get a group for because it is old content? Yes.

The funny thing is that these statements are not mutually exclusive. The only difference is when people think we should move on from old content. Many people think that SE should obsolete old content, but then complain when SE revives old content to make it relevant again. They don't really know what they want.

Uncapping the CoP zones is basically free new content for SE. No one uses those zones for much of anything now, so why not make them the new leveling areas and give them some use again? Sure, some small fraction of players won't get the challenge that we got years ago when they were harder, and we had worse equipment and fewer jobs leveled, and we walked to school in the snow, barefoot, uphill, both ways.

The complainers are acting like kids on the last day of high school, saying how much they loved everyone (even though they hated them), how much they will miss everyone (even though they will forget them within days of getting to college), and how this was the best time of their life (even though it sucked for the most part).

They need to sign their freaking year books, cry a little, give a few fist bumps, go to their year-end parties, or do whatever they need to do to move on.

Things are changing and change is good.

Monday, May 24, 2010

So, what did I miss?

I am back, slightly more tan, slightly more drunk and wishing I was still on vacation. But time marches on, and as it does so comes the version update notes. Let's review what happened last week and toss in a little dash of Ring meta-commentary for some spice!
First, SE gave a little more information about the first Abyssea expansion, Visions of Abyssea. The information provided was not that deep to say the least. I didn't really expect all that much, but all we got was basically a generic blurb about darkness, bleakness, anguish, destruction, and harrowing...ness. Hell, they even used the called the skies sanguine. Hey SE, you are making a game for a bunch of previously teen now sadly older video game nerds that just can't let go. How are they supposed to know what sanguine even means... wait... ok, maybe they are going to be the only people in the word that knows what sanguine means. Alrighty SE, go ahead, what were you saying? Anyway, we get a lot of big, nasty, scary words and not much of anything of substance. I mean honestly, the drawn picture of the new expansion gives us a better impression of what we can expect than the words that you choose to write about the damn thing! I felt like I was reading some kind of spooky-evil-demonic-underworld former baseball player trying to answer direct questions about steroids at a congressional hearing.

That isn't to say that I am not looking forward to the expansion, because I am totally geeking out for the damn things. An entire set of expansions designed around end-game? Where do I sign up? After finally doing some of my Wings missions (my god do those missions get INSANELY good after Lilith is introduced) and getting a better idea of what is going on, I am firmly of the opinion that Abyssea is the memories of the current time in Lilith's time-line that Atomos has already swallowed up. Yeah, those were spoilers there, but seriously something needs to get you guys motivated to do those missions and quests already! If you look at the background painting of the Abyssea website you will also see all sorts of new weapons as well as in the pictures on the Visions of Abyssea page. First and foremost, there is the sword the size of a small elephant in the hand of a particularly white Paladin. The gear is definitely in the .dats already, but that sword is not. That sword would give the bulbous-Nerf-cartoon weapons from WoW penis envy. Sure, sure, the taru is wearing purple Baron's gear, and he has an all new club model, but what is really interesting is the fist full o' giant spikes the MNK is using. Oh, and the nasty, demon Behemoth... that's interesting too.

Well, that was my report on one picture... man I can be long winded. That doesn't mean I am going to stop though. :) Our second pic is interesting in all new and equally long-winded ways! Ok, first of all there is the new mob, which is just the center mob in this picture from the back. But do we really care about non-series-related mobs? No, we don't. We care about big-bladed choppy sticks, the Yagudo-wannabe's that wield them and their... pink "power" Ranger friends? Seriously, ok, white haubs? Weird, but whatever, they do look good. Aqua-marine Baron's gear (and I don't give a fuck what color E. Body is, but I am not stepping into that war either)? That's fine by me. But I swear to god SE, I will fucking fly to Japan and I will piss in all of your fucking sake if put even one decent fucking stat on that pink holocaust. It's Noct gear, a cool design if in somewhat boring colors, but it's been made FABULOUS! Don't you fucking dare! Skadi is already way more pink than it should be... Ranger's are awesome archers with a little wilderness stealth and a whole bunch of shoot-you-in-the-face damage tossed in. This is what SE said about RNG's at VanaFest:

We also plan on adding new equipment designed for both form and function, with attributes and appearance befitting these lethal hunters and huntresses.
If this shit makes it into the game, then we know that SE really has been fucking with us all this time. Form and function? Attributes and appearance? Fuck me gently with a chainsaw... So, the RNG gets tossed into the dressing room at Benetton but the BST beats him up, steals his lunch money, rapes a Yagudo and then wears it's skin like Buffalo Bill and gets a "that's not an axe, THIS is an axe" axe to top it all off. The BST gear in that model-line is notorious for massive suckage, but man there is no way they can put bad stats on a coat made out of a fucking Yagudo. It would be an even bigger crime than making "Rosy the Ranger" gear.

Yeah, that was long-winded, so what? Don't make me stab you. I have been out of the loop for a week. Tomorrow, I might go over the new quests update, or I might just skip it because I don't know if it's worth a whole blog post, and I do need to cover the CoP areas getting uncapped and the money I now owe Iceblazek. Fucking SE!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sub-Routine: White Mage.

I should have probably gone back and revised the Ninja sub job post because apparently SE did explicitly state during Vana'fest that they would be keeping the Ninja and White Mage stances exclusive to their main jobs. This means that the information for Ninja might not be correct and that decreases the benefits of subbing Ninja by quite a bit. I thought about ranting about how the jobs that would sub Ninja actually need Yonin and Innin, but I think I am going to save that for a separate post. Also, I am going to include the White Mage "stances" because I think they should be included and available as a sub job, but I will get into the specifics for that below.

My general thought on White Mage is that it is still going to be a core subjob for all mage jobs. Now, you might think that I am retarded because I just made a post praising RDM as the new sub job that all mages are going to use. I still think that is the case for some mage jobs, like BLM and SCH because they either have access to the specific spells that /WHM brings to the table (SCH) or they don't give a fuck about those spells (BLM). The problem is that several mage and support jobs will still be called upon do perform the roll of a WHM main. For example, in Salvage many RDM are required to be able to fill the roll of a main healer also (and there is also the fact that a RDM can't sub RDM, LOL). This requires access to a full compliment of -na spells and Erase which are best available through /WHM. In the end, offensive mages are almost definitely going to want to use /RDM but healing mages are going to want to use /WHM, and support jobs are going to have to pick what they need on a case by case basis.

Afflatus Solace @40 (maybe?).
Of course people are going to say this is the reason that /WHM shouldn't get access to the WHM main stances, but are they really thinking about it that deeply? SE actually put this ability together pretty well when they made it, and that is why I am not really worried about it. The real benefit of Afflatus Solace is the "cureskin" effect, or the bonus Stoneskin that is given to the recipient of the Cure. This would be a problem if everyone was walking around with a full strength "cureskin" effect, but that is not the case. The cap on the amount of "cureskin" you can give is based on the level of your WHM, so subbing it will mean that you will have a lower cap. If the "cureskin" is too strong while subbed then SE may have to do some tweaking down either by decreasing the "cureskin" effect at lower levels, or by nerfing it while subbed. But if you consider the fact that SCH gives their healing and cast bonus at full effect, I don't see why WHM can't give out at least a nerfed "cureskin" to other mages.

"Cureskin" isn't the only benefit to Solace, but the other benefits either have limited use or can't be accessed. Here is a quick run down.
*Sacrifice - Higher than the 49 level-cap.
*Bar-Element Effect - Ok, this one might need to be nerfed a little bit. RDM is already able to hand out a decent Bar-Element but a good WHM is going to have a much higher -ra effect. It's not that big of an effect, but it's definitely something WHM need to do well and RDM don't really need. I would say that this shouldn't be available when subbed or it should only be +1 or +2 MDB at best.
*Holy - Only other job with access to this is PLD, and while they might be able to drop a big Holy because of this, I just don't see it as all that game breaking.

And that is about it. I still can't see why /WHM should get Afflatus Solace.

Afflatus Misery @40 (Maybe?)
If I think that /WHM should get Solace, there is no reason they shouldn't get Misery. Like Solace the amount of damage you can take to increase it's effect is limited by your level, so you would only be getting the subjob level of effect. Unlike Solace though, Misery doesn't really have a permanently beneficial effect, but it all spell specific, so lets look over those.

*Cura - Incredibly efficient but never really used because if you are a good WHM for the most part you aren't going to take much damage. /WHM is going to have access to this anyway, and the level correction on Misery is going to limit the additional potency.
*Esuna - Higher than the 49 level-cap.
*Auspice - Higher than the 49 level-cap.
*Banish - Like Holy this could be used to increase their damage, but again it is limited by the level correction on the damage absorbed effect. And really... who is going to be spamming Banish anyway?

I will say it again, there is no reason /WHM shouldn't get these abilities, there is nothing game breaking. A limited Solace effect is not really that much better than what you can get from /SCH, and come on, /WAR is going to give freaking Aggressor. It's time to throw /WHM a bone.

Now onto the spells. I am only going to go over the critical ones here, I don't think we really need to worry about every little random Bar-spell that /WHM is going to get.

Teleport-Altep and Yhoat @ 38 and Teleport-Vahzl @ 42.
These spells would have meant a whole lot more a couple of years ago, but today those Teleports just aren't that important because there isn't much reason to go to those places. Even if you are leveling in those areas, most parties are going to have at least one WHM main in it that can teleport then change jobs. Besides, there are tons of alternative ways to get around the game anyway, and that cuts into the relevance of these teleports most fundamentally.

Stona @ 39.
This is the last -na spell that WHM had uniquely. Honestly, I am more concerned that SE is giving this up as a subjob spell than I am about the WHM stances. A good spell to have and it will let the WHM not have to worrying about exclusively covering this from now on. I do think that SE should give Amensiana (Amensna?, Amensina?) to WHM above the new sub job cap so WHM has that one last -na spell that no one else gets.

Haste @ 40.
Went over this when discussing RDM already, but man, this is going to be great of a lot of mage subs. BLM will love it (but will probably get it from /RDM), SCH will love it (but will probably get it from /RDM), SMN will love it (but don't they already have it from Garuda?). It will be exclusive to /WHM if the first level cap increase is only to level 80, but after that /RDM is going to have it too, and then it's not really going to matter. It's a good spell, necessary and it's probably time that other jobs get access to it even if it is through there sub job.

Cura @ 40.
See above under Afflatus Misery. Potentially interesting, but probably never going to be used.

Cure IV @ 41.
Finally, the non-RDM and non-SCH mages will get access to a decent cure, even if it is a hate-filled monster. No more Cure 3 spam. But again this is a much greater blow to WHM uniqueness than both of the Afflatus JA's combined. I think SE is going to need to give WHM a new even bigger Cure (Cure VI? I know totally original) to make up for this. If not, you might see WHM quickly pushed to the back burner because most jobs are going to be able to do the basic function of a WHM just by subbing the job. This had almost completely happened before with RDM, and while the Afflatus JA's fixed the situation, it was RDM's access to Cure IV and Haste that caused the situation to begin with.

Regen II @ 44.
I think this one is going to be play style dependent, but some people love their Regens. I don't think it will be much of a factor for most people though.

Flash @ 45.
This one is surprisingly unimportant, I think. While Flash can be nice to help out a tank, I don't know that it is a make or break spell for anyone that would want to sub WHM. That is unless NIN would want to sub WHM, and I am not really kidding here. NIN/WHM would get access to Haste, self-cures and Flash, that is potentially a whole lot of hate. NIN already largely subs DRK just for a couple of hate spells and three 5+ minute job abilities. /WHM has the potential to deliver more hate, more quickly outside of those JA's. I think it is at least worth looking into after the level cap hits 90+.

Protect III and Protectra III @ 47.
A nice additional spell for jobs that don't get access to it a convenient Protectra. Nothing to write home about, but I don't think people are going to be complaining either.

Repose @ 48.
A light-based sleep available to jobs like RDM, BLM and SCH? That is pretty powerful, and it will definitely cut into the utility of the remaining jobs that have exclusive access to light-based sleep. BLM, RDM and SCH are already known for their crowd control skills, getting Repose isn't going to overpower them, but I don't think they are going to be looking down their nose at it either.

Subbing WHM is going to offer some pretty powerful options and even if SE decides that no one else besides WHM should have access to the Afflatus "stances" it is still going to be a great sub job. So if you are a mage main, get out there and level your WHM! And if you are a NIN, at least give the /WHM some thought, because I think it might surprise you!

Two final things. First, that awesome WHM painting at the start of this article was blatantly stolen from Atua on the FFXI AH website. It's a great work! Second, this is my last post for a week as I am going on vacation. I won't be back until May 24th. Maybe if you are lucky and you wish really hard, Omoi might post something on the blog to keep you entertained while I am gone. :)

POL News: June Update Teaser Finally Arrives!

It's coming! The June 2010 Update has finally been announced and it looks like SE is going to come through with all their major plans. The first stage of the level cap increase and a ton of equipment and weapons to go along with it. The nation quest are finally finishing up, and along with that we will be getting access to the Walk of Echoes. How we get into the Walk of Echoes still remains a mystery, but I am sure we will find out soon enough. Also, more Magian trials are on their way. Are they going to include more weapon upgrades because of the increased level cap? Are we just going to get gear upgrades? How will gear upgrades work? Am I going to have to camp Ho Majoo the Wooblededoo 800 more times again? This is all before we even start talking about job adjustments and the changes that are going to happen to sub jobs. I am guessing we are mostly going to see nerfs for sub jobs but we might see a buff or two here and there.

And all this is great stuff is coming even before you consider that the first Abyssea update hasn't even been mentioned yet! End game galore! I love it!

For SE's full announcement check below the cut!
We are pleased to announce that our development team is hard at work putting the finishing touches on the upcoming FINAL FANTASY XI version update, which is currently on track for a mid-June release.

This update promises to be a momentous one, with the first level cap increase in over six and a half years, and a veritable slew of new equipment and weapon skills to accompany it.

But that's not all! Adventurers across Vana'diel can look forward to experiencing the climactic conclusions of the popular Wings of the Goddess nation quest storylines, braving the eerie environs of the new Walk of Echoes area, taking up the gauntlet with new Trial of the Magians trials, and much more! With a host of job adjustments and other refinements on the way as well, this update is sure to offer something for players of all stripes.

As always, detailed previews will be forthcoming right here in the Topics section, so keep watching this space!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sub-Routine: Corsair

Fine Rob, I will do Corsair next. I am still right though, it's going to look great on paper, but in function it just isn't going to make a difference. Corsair is much more likely to sub another buffing job like BRD than another job is to use Corsair. For the most part other jobs are expected to bring certain things that one buff from Corsair just won't cover. Also remember that some Corsair buffs are effected by level difference between the caster and the recipient, so it's not like you will get full strength buffs either. You can also get most of the sweet Corsair buffs from other subs like Refresh will be coming from RDM. While Corsair will have some decent buffs, only getting one roll and having it at a decreased potency just undercuts the notion of using it as a sub job a lot.

That said, some people are going to still want to use it, so lets see what Corsair is going to get and you can make your own judgment.

Quick Draw @ 40.
Damage shots, plus a light-based Sleep and a Dispel? How could you go wrong? Well, you can go pretty wrong, actually. The accuracy for Quick Draw is based on your AGI which for a wide variety of jobs this is going to mean that you are going to miss a whole lot. In the end, these shots are not going to be very effective at all for all but one job, Ranger. Ranger on the other hand has access to a huge amount of AGI gear, much better gear than even COR gets. That means that RNG shots have a very good chance of landing the Sleep and Dispel effects. Even for the damage shots a RNG should be able to get shots with at least the accuracy of a COR if not better. This will definitely require a gun-based RNG because you would be losing TP every time you switch weapons to use QD if you were using a bow or cross-bow. COR might actually turn out to be a decent sub for RNG for this reason. They would get the job-enhanced Hunter's Roll (but this will be nerfed because of the level difference between the RNG main and COR sub) and access to these bonus shots. Of course SAM and WAR would still be better DD sub jobs, but in our world in which RNG are increasingly unable to do their max damage because they will get their faces eaten, subbing COR might be an option. Just remember you are going to need cards for this to work.

Evoker's Roll @40.
The reason that Rob thinks that COR is going to be so great as a subjob. It looks good on paper sure, but it doesn't consider that it will be literally the only thing you will be getting out of your sub job. You will be losing the MP pool from a mage subjob, you will be losing all of the associated spells from a mage subjob, you will be losing all of the abilities from other sub jobs. The only job I can think that would even consider it would be RDM, but even with the extra refresh it just isn't going to be equal to losing all of the base MP and you are going to lose Erase, Curagas, and any JA's that SE does end up giving to WHM. And that all assume you are going to get a full strength Evoker's Roll while subbing COR. It is the same notion as subbing BRD, a little bit better but still just a niche for low-manning things.

Rogue's Roll @43.
A boost to Crit hit rate, which is nice if you would ever use it. Maybe a BRD subbing COR would use it if they don't have to do anything else. It's a nice bonus, but probably won't be used over other rolls.

Warlock's Roll @46.
Magic accuracy is always nice, and if you are a BRD stuck in an all BLM party then this could be a nice roll to have. Ok, Rob outside of RNG that is another place that people might sub COR.

Fighter's Roll @49.
Much like Rogue's roll, this is another damage booster for when the situation is going to occur. The extra DA is going to be nice, but again, it's not going to be make or break.

Resist Paralyze III @ 45.
Hey, it's more than DRG gets. LOL

So, subbing Corsair will probably have a few more niche roles than it does now, but it will still suffer from the nerf caused by level difference in buffer and buffee. RNG could see some good use out of it if they are already using a gun, and depending on their role BRD could use it too. RDM? I just don't see it happening Rob, sorry.

The picture for this post? Why it's a F4U Corsair of course! :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sub-Routine: Dragoon.

This is one of the most boring subjobs to discuss because nothing is going to change between level 37 and 49. The next major boost to Dragoon doesn't really come until 50. Still, Dragoon has always been considered to have something to offer even if it is just as a niche sub-job. It offers a lot of potential haste for other two-hander jobs, but it doesn't offer anywhere near as much in terms of defenses for non-SAM mains, and doesn't quite match up with subbing WAR for most SAM's. At peak haste it is probably better than /WAR but the difference is close, and at lower levels of haste WAR still has a distinct advantage. In general when thinking about subbing DRG it should be remembered that you should be using a Wyvern Earring because the entire benefit of subbing DRG is having the haste from it.

Without trying to jump to conclusions, lets talk about what might be coming for /DRG because if we don't this would be a really short post.

New Jump.
At very least SE has said that DRG will be getting another Jump ability. If this was something that was available below the subjob cap then that would be a really big boost to subbing DRG. One of the things about the jumps for non-DRG mains is the nice increase in TP without much delay at all. Jump and High Jump right now eliminate two attack rounds pretty often and another jump, if it is an offensive attack, will just be even more speed for TP building.

Dragoon Main?
Dragoon unlike a most other jobs changes a lot depending on what kind of sub job it is using. Any discussion that didn't include some kind of discussion about changes to the effects of subjobs on DRG would be excluding one of the most unique aspects of the DRG job itself. SE has said that they plan on providing more wyvern abilities available with a wider array of subjobs. Does that mean more offensive breaths for mage sub jobs? Or does that mean more healing for offensive sub jobs? Both?

I am sorry there isn't more to provide for you when it comes to Dragoon as a sub job, but don't blame me! Blame SE! And maybe they will listen and provide us with some more interesting benefits to using DRG as a subjob.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sub-Routine: Dancer

For soloing, duoing and low-manning in the future, it looks like Dancer may be the most important job to have leveled. Even if you are thinking about doing events with more people, Dancer may still be an option because of all the self- and party-wide buffs that are going to become available. The one major thing to note first is that even with the increase in the level cap, those that want to sub DNC will still not be able to get to the next major heal, Curing Waltz III. It probably should be noted that if people were able to sub DNC and get Curing Waltz III it might have really bad balance issues. Curing Waltz II already is a pretty big cure, about equal to a Cure III, and it has a pretty low recast time with a decent TP cost. If Curing Waltz III was added to this some jobs like PLD or SAM it might make them just too survivable.

On with the show.

Reverse Flourish @ 40.
This ability is very nice for main-job Dancers as it lets you convert Finishing Moves that you get from using Steps into TP. Dancers often need this for situations where they can't build TP on the mobs they are fighting, or just for a nice TP boost. I don't know how great this will be for those that are subbing DNC though because most people use /DNC while soloing or low-manning and are actually fighting mobs and getting a decent store of TP anyway. The one place it might be quite useful (and Dancer mains may do this too but I don't know that much about Dancer) is to boost your TP back up after you do a WS and are left with very little. Since /DNC doesn't have many uses for their Finishing Moves right now, I can see this being a nice little boost and a better reason to use some of the Steps that currently might be ignored or at least marginalized. Just remember that the amount of TP you get back from Reverse Flourish is based on the number of Finishing Moves you have stored up, and the more you have the better the TP return so you want to make sure you save up those Finishers as long as you can until you get 5 of them.

Stutter Step @ 40.
At first glance this appears to be nothing of interest to most people that would sub DNC, but a deeper look makes it a bit more intriguing. The magic resistance reduction provided by Stutter Step effects other "magical" effects that /DNC can use. The problem is that up until now there hasn't been much of anything that was so great as to demand a reduction in magic resistance to make sure it lands but just wait a moment until we get to...

Violent Flourish @45.
Now that decreased magic resistance is going to make a difference. Violent Flourish by itself is basically a weapon swing with additional effect: stun, but there is a little bit more to it than that. The stun effect of Violent Flourish can miss even if the weapon swing lands, because it has a separate calculation for the stun effect and that is based on magic resistance. So if you want to make sure that your stun is going to land you are going to want to make sure the mob's magic resistance is as low as you can get it. That means you should be building up your Finishing Moves by using Stutter Step. Unlike Reverse Flourish, Violent Flourish only takes one Finishing Move to pull off so you can use it as soon as you get your first Stutter Step on the mob.

Haste Samba @45.
Ahh, the sexiness that Dancer brings to subjobs. Well, it's definitely a little bit of sexiness at 5% weapon delay reduction, but it's not game breaking that is for sure. Any decrease in weapon delay especially without losing TP per swing is a nice bonus, but 5% is still small when you consider that other buffs like Haste and BRD songs give you a much larger bonus. The neat thing about it is that while it does stack with all other forms of Haste it doesn't count toward the Haste cap like almost every other form of Haste. Normally, your "Job Abilty" haste would be capped at 25%, but with Haste Samba you can actually go above this. The problem is that you can't go that much higher if you aren't a DRK with Desperate Blows. Once Haste Samba is available through /DNC it will almost definitely be better to use it than Drain Samba if you don't need all the healing you can get.

Evasion Bonus II and Subtle Blow II @45.
Another nice boost to evasion and a little less TP spam. These traits are never going to be the reason you choose to sub DNC, but they are a bit of an added benefit that you don't get from many other jobs.

Dancer is going to be a strong subjob as the level cap increases even if it is just for the same roles that it is used for now. This is another one of those "must level" jobs, even though leveling it isn't going to be anywhere near as fun as using it as a subjob.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sub-Routine: Red Mage

I begrudgingly review Red Mage next not because I don't think that it will be a bad subjob, it will indeed be awesome, but because it is too obviously awesome. I wanted to hit on a couple of the more interesting potential sub jobs before I went too far into the obvious ones. The problem is that I think that most mages really want to know what is coming from RDM and what they are going to expect. And I also think they don't want to hear about another melee sub job. I think that there are actually some other interesting sub jobs for mages, but I do think that RDM is going to be the "go to" sub jobs for a whole lot of jobs once the level cap increases. I will say this, if you have a main mage job and you don't have RDM leveled then you are going to want to do that before anything else. Like right now... why are you still sitting there? Go! NOW!

Convert @ 40.
The quintessential RDM ability... and before Composure was added, the only non-two-hour ability that RDM had. Get an entirely new MP pool for your HP every 10 minutes. It's one of those abilities that had SE claiming they could never raise the level cap for over 5 years, and then one day SE drops the bomb says it's one of the great things about raising the level cap. Of course RDMs the world over are going to whine and complain about losing their signature JA, but that is because after BRD, RDM is the number 1 prima donna job. News flash, everyone else is losing their signature JA's too. And lets get another thing straight, while Convert is a powerful JA, it's not god-like. It's a full MP once every ten minutes. This is probably most beneficial for WHM in the end, because most other jobs have other limitations on how they can use the MP. SMN still have to wait on Bloodpacts, BLM get a few more nukes but nothing game breaking, SCH get to do more of their... well they do everything already. It just isn't that broken to give this to other jobs.

Magic Attack Bonus II @ 40.
I can only think of one job that is going to care about this because any job that it would really matter to already has something like this available. The one job that is going to care is SCH. SCH has no innate Magic Attack Bonus and has to get them from their sub job. While SCH can get MAB II from BLM already most SCH would still prefer to use RDM as a sub because it gives them access to a wider and far more utilitarian selection of spells. Getting MAB II from RDM as a sub job pretty much eliminates any reason to consider using BLM as a subjob altogether (as is MAB II was a reason to use BLM in the first place).

Magic Defense Bonus II @ 45.
While pretty bland at first this might be a nice little bonus for tanking jobs that already like to sub RDM for dealing with more magic damage intensive fights. PLD already sub RDM for fights like JoL because they can pull a lot of hate and don't need to worry about shadows at all. The problem is that Magic Defense Bonus II only provides +2 MDB over MDB I, while MDB I provides +10 MDB, so the upgrade is comparatively very small. It is an added bonus for those that would be subbing RDM anyway, but it definitely isn't enough to justify switching if you weren't going to do so already.

I am not going to go over every possible spell that RDM is going to get as a sub but I will go over the notable ones.

Raise @ 38.
While this is available for those mage jobs that generally sub WHM, this is a nice added boost to BLM that may need to raise a fallen comrade or if someone forgets to put up Reraise. This is nowhere as good Reraise, but it is something that may make life a little easier for people that want to sub RDM anyway.

Refresh @ 41.
This is the great grand-pappy of all the new things that we will be getting through subjobs as the level cap increases. This one is more game changing than anything else, including Convert. Almost all jobs are going to sub RDM because of this spell, as a constant 3MP per tick is just that good. While there will again be complaints from RDM about the loss of the main reason they are being brought to events (if any RDM thinks the only reason they are brought to events is because of Refresh then they must not know how to Enfeeble at all), SE has already hinted that they will be giving RDM a new Refresh II replacement to keep them in the refresh game. My guess is that it will be better than Refresh and it won't stack with Refresh, so all the prima donnas don't go crying home to mommy.

Sleep II @ 46.
While definitely not unique to the RDM sub job, it is just another added benefit when you are going to be subbing RDM anyway for those other bonuses. It gives mages a bit more real crowd control options if they have the enfeebling skill to use it properly.

Protect III @ 47.
Another little perk for those BLM out there that are going to be loving /RDM for other reasons. Take a little more of a physical beating before you die a horrible death because all of your crowd control got resisted.

Cure IV @ 48.
Another spell that you are going to get through a different sub job and much earlier too, but again, you are going to want to be subbing RDM for other reasons and having Cure IV now means that you are basically capable of doing what a RDM does right now. That doesn't necessarily mean that you will be able to fill the roll that a RDM does right now because MP and HP pools will definitely be increasing as the level cap increases and Cure IV might not be as good an idea as it is now (more Cure IV casts, more hate gained, more MP spent).

Haste @ 48.
This might sound familiar: A spell you really want, that you could get through another sub job, but you will want more from RDM. Essentially this will give all mages the ability to cast haste at least on themselves, and it may help to relieve the burden that is places on RDM and WHM to cover all of the melees and tanks with Haste. This one is so good that it might even mean that melees start to consider using a mage job as a sub. At very least it will be a major boost to PLD/RDM soloing just about everything, and it could mean that PLD/RDM takes over the "Soloing God" position from RDM.

And that's about it. RDM will get a few other spells, but nothing to write home about. RDM is going to be a really important sub job, not just for mages, but for PLD and a few other jobs as well. This is one of those sub jobs that you should level now before the first increase in the level cap so you are ready to go once the update hits.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Sub-Routine: Ninja

The level cap increase is coming! Are you prepared? This is the first in a series of articles that are going to look at all the potential sub jobs and the benefits that are going to come out of them as the level cap increases. Now, you might be wondering why I am going to go over sub jobs instead of main jobs, and there are a couple of answers. First, sub jobs have been generally designed around the level 75 cap for about 5 years now. SE has been adding abilities just above the level cap for sub jobs that are now going to become available. Second, we don't really know what is coming for main jobs. We do have SE's traditionally vague pronouncement of changes, but outside of SAM having Sekkanoki being bumped down to be available for sub jobs there really isn't much to go on for direct information. Third, while you know what you are generally getting out of a main job, sub jobs can alter, sometimes radically you play style for that job, so it is a good idea to know what is coming so you can maximize the potential of your main job.

Let's start with Ninja. Why? Well, because I think it is something that everyone is going to level anyway for the shadows so we might as well find out what else we are getting out of it.

1. Tier 2 Elemental Ninjutsu @ 40.
No. Just no. You don't have the skill, you don't have the MAB, you don't have the inventory space. Yes, there is going to be that random BLM out there that is going to try this out on a level 40 crab and they are going to say "it totally works" and then they will be attacked by a hundred psychopathic monkeys with nothing by terrorism and murder by anal rape on their minds... or maybe that is just what I hope happens to them.

2. Yonin/Innin @ 40.
Ok, so I have heard people say that SE is going to change this and move them up out of sub job range, but I have seen absolutely no evidence of this. First of all, if SE doesn't give this at sub job level then there is going to almost no reason to use NIN as a sub (ok, so there really isn't a whole lot of reasons besides shadows right now either). Other jobs are going to be handing out some pretty nice buffs as the level cap increases, why can't NIN? Second, Yonin and Innin aren't god-like abilities. I mean freaking /WAR is going to get Aggressor... I think /NIN is ok giving THF a little more accuracy and crit hit rate (which THF doesn't really need a huge boost in anyway) from behind.

Yonin is going to give more enmity production, save people a few Shihei, improve evasion which isn't going to matter to anyone besides THF and decrease incoming crits which is definitely nice. More specifically Yonin will continue to make PLD the only tanking job in the game. I suppose that maybe some of the concern for giving these abilities through the sub job is that it will just make PLD stronger. NEWS FLASH: PLD is the only tank in the game right now! Everything else is just a DD/NIN. NIN can hold hate really well, but in the end, they are nowhere close to PLD even when they have exclusive access to Yonin. There are only three tanking situations in FFXI; you need a real tank and you bring a PLD, you don't need a real tank and you sub NIN or SAM, you are fighting Tiamat. Tank imbalance in FFXI doesn't really matter because so many people have PLD leveled.

Innin is what I think most people are going to care about because it is an offensive boost for DD jobs. Evasion doesn't mean anything really to jobs that are used to wearing Haubs or pinning hate on someone else. The enmity reduction is going to be very nice for some jobs like RNG, who already have major hate issues and finding it very easy to quickly move up the hate list. It is also pretty good for keeping yourself alive in a Dynamis type situation where you want to share hate more than you keep it. SAM's are still going to hate /NIN because all the real offensive bonuses are going to come from being behind the mob, and that is a no-no for SAM damage production. On the other end of the spectrum THF is going to love Innin, since they already stand behind mobs a good portion of the time. That is going to be a good boost in accuracy for a dual wield job like THF as well as the previously mentioned and perhaps not all that relevant boost to critical hit rate. MNK might also benefit from this boost, but it might take some adjusting to get used to standing behind mobs on MNK.

3. Dual Wield III @ 45.
Here is the make or break for the future of /NIN. THFs are already going to be drooling over subbing NIN but this might cause the return of WAR/NIN if you have the gear to support it. Right now a really well geared and well played WAR/NIN can still beat out a Great Axe WAR/SAM, but it is much easier for the WAR/NIN to go /SAM and do better too. The really important aspect of this is that this is a pretty big step up in swing speed as Dual Wield III is a 10% decrease in weapon delay. The question then becomes is 10% swing speed improvement and Innin enough to beat out /SAM which as I will cover later isn't really getting a whole lot more with the increase in the level cap? I am thinking that it just might be what be needed to see a return of WAR/NIN. And the new Magian weapons might add another factor into the equation. I am not sure, but I am holding out hope.

4. Subtle Blow III @ 45.
Another nice bonus, but I don't think that it is going to be a real consideration for picking a subjob. Less TP given almost always means less damage taken, but that is what we have healers for.

Overall, I give the Ninja sub job at least a B+ when it comes to the improvements the sub job is going to get as the level cap increases. It will still have shadows, but it will finally have the offensive potential that is needed to help it even be considered with /SAM. It has at least two different jobs that might be able to greatly benefit from the improvements (THF and WAR) and there are always hidden benefits that we might not even know about right now. I would say the future looks really bright for Ninja as a sub job.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Cheap Loots: Aesir Gear.

I think I forgot to mentioned something yesterday, like why this post is called Cheap Loots. Well, to put it simply, this is just to help find places you can save money by replacing relatively expensive gear with cheap or free stuff. The Aesir gear that comes from the Odin fight is pretty much free. Yes, you will need to spend some time collecting the items to do the fight again, but when you compare the items to the equivalent AH prices you are saving a ton. Hopefully this will provide an appendix to the On the Cheap series of articles. Instead of providing a slot by slot analysis for each job, this is more of a gear analysis for all jobs. And most importantly it's about free gear for those jobs!

On to the cheap loot! Remember, you can always get the 10k gil or the Summoner Pact from the fight, but if you are doing that then you shouldn't be reading this anyway! LOL

Aesir Ear Pendent

+7 Attack is pretty decent for MNK, but it has this curious new stat Conserve TP too. What is Conserve TP? Pretty simply, it is a trait much like Conserve MP, but instead of saving MP after casting a spell it saves TP after doing a WS. So this is awesome, right? Well, maybe not. It really depends on how much TP you conserve and more importantly how much TP you are going to end up saving. It is still pretty unclear how much TP you can actually conserve from a WS, but if you are not able to get back enough TP to replace a full attack round then it is pretty much worthless. Keep in mind that it is already pretty worthless for most jobs already because you are generally going to be using a Brutal Earring and a STR earring (SAM especially won't be using this item if they have a Bushinomimi). If there is no chance that you can reduce the number of attacks needed for the next WS then the Conserve TP function is essentially completely useless.

So this sucks, right? Well, maybe not on that count either. MNK's like to use a lot of Attack for Asuran Fists, and the Brutal Earring is completely useless for Asuran Fists, so they tend to use Attack Earrings already and there isn't that great of a supply for them either. So it's already one of the best Attack Earrings for MNK, but the Conserve TP could actually be a great boon for MNK. It really depends on how Conserve TP procs end up working out, but it seems to me that with the lower TP return per swing on a MNK (this applies to NIN too but I don't know if it would be worth it for them to use it just for the rare proc compared to other options) it should be easier to get the Conserve TP proc to cover a whole attack round, or at least one swing of an attack round that might be missed. So far it looks like the proc is pretty low and the amount of TP you can conserve is veritable so I would be hesitant to use this just for the Conserve TP proc, but if you are a MNK and are going to use an Attack earring like the Merman's Earring anyway, then the Aesir Pendant Earring is a slight boost there and the Conserve TP boost just might be pretty cool.

That is all, right? No quite, there is one other job that might actually be interested in the Conserve TP effects, especially if they stack well, that job is Dancer. No other job uses TP like Dancers do. A Dancer is going to have far more opportunities to proc the Conserve TP trait, and they don't have to worry about whether they get enough to replace a whole swing because they can burn their TP whenever they please. This should even apply to jobs that sub Dancer for low man events like Assault or for Campaign where you want to cure yourself as much as possible. Here is where I am going to fail you, because I have no idea what Dancers generally use for the earring slots. While I presume they use the Brutal Earring, I don't know what they use for their other earring (Roundel Earring? Maybe, but that is quite an expensive investment) and I don't know how this would stack up for them, but this might be something that jobs that are subbing Dancer might consider to use for self-curing even if they don't use it for WS's.

Aesir Mantle
I am much more unsure about this item than I am about even the Aesir Pendant Earring. Sure, it looks like it could be great, and while Double Attack is a trait that people like to see on gear, it isn't a trait that people generally go out of their way to pick up unless there isn't anything else that great available (e.g. Brutal Earring) or it has something else on it that makes it important (e.g.... Brutal Earring for the Store TP). 8 Attack just isn't make or break for any job, and it is a big cut from even the cheapest available options like Amemet Mantle +1 which also has more STR on it. For the TP phase, 1% DA just isn't going to over come at the minimum 2 STR and 7 Attack on every hit, and the situation gets even worse for WS's when the 2 STR and 7 Attack are going to mean even more. Sure it is 1% more during Darksday, but even then it just isn't going to cut it. If you are down to choosing between the Aesir Mantle or the 10k, take the 10k.

Aesir Torque
The real gem of the bunch, this torque is the King of Cheap Loots. An Elemental and Dark Torque rolled into one with a little splash of awesomeness on Darksday, and it's free? It doesn't get any better than this. Surprisingly, there isn't much else to say about this. If you are a BLM it is a must have. It lets you sell two expensive torques and saves you one inventory slot. The only drawback is that it is level 75 which is higher than the level 65 requirement of the other torques, but really does that matter at all? Just rent the Elemental Torque from the AH until you hit 75, then use the Aesir Torque. It really is a no-brainer.

It looks like the Odin fight is a great option for Cheap Loots, and it is pretty much mandatory for some jobs. Tomorrow we will go over Alexander and see what kind of fruit that will bear.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cheap Loots: The Rider Cometh

In the last update, SE added both Alexander and Odin as new summons. This is pretty common knowledge I suspect, but what is lesser known is that like all of the rest of the quests to obtain summons, there are other rewards besides the summoning pacts. The quests to prep these fights are longer than the tuning fork quests for all of the rest of the summons, but they are not that difficult to complete. Today, I am going to focus on the Odin quest and the gear rewards from the fight that might be enticing for everyone, not just Summoners.

To start the quest to fight Odin you will first need to go to the Walahra Temple in Whitegate. If you have completed the Aht Urhgan storyline, then a cutscene will immediately be triggered and you will be able to begin the quest The Rider Cometh. While you are in Aht Urhgan you might as well take a moment to pick up a Sutlac and a Irmik Helvasi at the tea house NPC, trust me on this one, it will probably save you some money and time as you will need them later.

Next, you are going to head to Nashmau, head all the way North and talk to Yoyoroon. You will get another cutscene and you will be sent out to kill Ephramadian Shades (Fomor type mobs) to get a Timeworn Talisman. Interestingly and I believe quite rightly, Yoyoroon will not talk to you if you on Blue Mage. I believe this is not because of the general Qiqirn distaste for Blue Mages, but because Yoyoroon has a well developed understanding of FFXI end-game and also recognizes the complete uselessness of Blue Mage. LOL *cough* Where was I? Ah yes, I was able to solo the higher level ones in Caedarva Mire relatively easily on SAM/DNC, but I can't vouch for other jobs. Just be careful to pull them someplace safe because everything in that area aggro low HP, and there are true-sight Imps in the area too. Kill two or three of the Shades and even without TH you should get your Talisman in due time.

Head back to Nashmau and trade the Timeworm Talisman, the Sutlac and the Irmik Helvasi to Yoyoroon. The Sutlac is necessary to get Yoyoroon to accept the Timeworn Talisman and the Irmik Helvasi increases the chance that Yoyoroon will accept the Timeworn Talisman. There is always a chance that Yoyoroon will find that your Talisman will be what Yoyoroon is looking for, and you will have to get another Talisman, Sutlac and Irmik Helvasi. Once, Yoyoroon does take your Talisman, you will need to zone, and then come back and talk to the little Qiqirn one more time and he will give you the Talisman of the Rebel Gods which is a key item. Head back to Walahra Temple, and you will get the Talisman Key (another key item) and you will basically be ready to do the Odin fight after a cutscene at the door in Hazhalm Testing Grounds.

I haven't done the fight yet, but as soon as I do I will report back on it. It doesn't appear to be too difficult though and I have haven't heard any bad reports about the fight so far. Once you take down Odin you can take the gil (definitely not worth it), take the summoning pact (not so great if you don't care about your SMN), or you can pick between some pretty decent gear. Tomorrow I will go over the drops, which one is the best, which is the worst, and how many times you are going to need to do this fight to get everything you want.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Soloing: The Good and the Bad.

Soloing has always been quite a spectacle. With the right gear, the right mob and a mountain of patience there are a huge number of kills that can be had by the right players. The reasons to solo mobs are pretty simple, all the drops go to one person, it is a better test of skill than doing it with more people and some of them can only be done with a certain gear requirement that other people you know may not meet. Additionally, some solo's just can't be done with more than one person because it would mess with the strategy, cause too many TP moves, or risk someone getting too close to a melee attack.

There are also a few reasons why soloing isn't such a great idea. The first issue with soloing is that though you can keep all the drops, you can't usually solo things that have decent drops on THF so you don't get access to TH. While some people consider soloing to be the pinnacle of skill, other people view it as casting DoT's and running with movement speed. While the concentration skills needed may be high, some question the actual player skill involved. This can be further seen with some of the new solo's that are happening with VNM mobs. I find it hard to buy that casting a spell and then moving one pace to abuse bad mob pathing is a real test of skill at all. The other problem with that is that the ToS pretty clearly states that abusing terrain is a no-no, and while I personally don't think anyone is going to get in trouble for it, I also thought that the Salvage dupers weren't going to get punished either. It is obviously not the same circumstance, not even close, but SE does have a penchant for punishing people and has proved they don't mind swinging the banhammer when they feel it is necessary. Finally, there is the issue of cock-blocking. Solo's obviously take a long time, and in some places, they can hold mobs for unreasonably long amounts of time. A good soloer tends to do their soloing in a time that usually doesn't effect most people (for example, I am pretty sure Kaeko avoids trying to do his stuff in any region's prime times), but in the end if you are soloing a mob, especially a mob that could be defeated quickly by a larger group of people and you are making them wait, then you are going to end up looking like a dick. It does beg the question of soloing though. If you are soloing to test things out and for the challenge then I can see that, but if you soloing because you are anti-social or don't have friends to help you, then you may be proving my point.

As you can probably tell, while I am not strictly against soloing difficult NMs, I don't really understand the motivation to do so after the first test of skill. I think the cons far outweigh any kind of benefit in the case of VNMs. If you do it right, then it really isn't a problem, but for every conscientious soloer out there, there are 5 that are willing to take an hour and a half to kill Krabkatoa or 2 hours to do a simple Limbus zone while people are waiting.