Friday, November 30, 2007

Dhalmel-necks, Dancing, Dying, and Dyce.

Random Picture of the Day: Anacalius prepares to lop my head off.
Step one: Pick up Great Axe.
Step two: Aim for the Dhalmel-neck.
Step three: Swing!

Dancer has progressed to 18 now.

Had a few Dyce involvements again. He came with Valion and me when doing a WoG mission. We toyed around with the three of us being on PLD, declaring the mission in the name of "Team Paladin." Typing that looks really dorky. Anyhoo, pic:

Sicfreak randomly announced that he was tired of being Rank 6. He asked for some assistance on Bastok 6-1 and 6-2. Encino, Dyce, and I obliged and the four of us completed both missions.

First I had to teleport Dyce to Yhoator Jungle so he could get his Outpost Warp:

Then he was slain in battle (wasn't me this time).

Encino and I went to Caedarva Mire to get him some more EXP and close the gap to 75BLM. Right at the end of the party we ended up with links and death. I still got a Merit Point. Entertainment go!

The ~65 static went out for EXP on Thursday night. We almost all leveled, and are now within range of our final member to add in. The lineup shall be as follows:

Encino: PLD/WAR - Encino does a pretty good job. I've been static with him since 37 when I was on THF and Galb was with us on WHM. That particular group stopped off at about 62 and is now defunct. Soda-Galb-Draco group has now picked Encino up along the way. "Imp" as I call him has been under my guidance and has learned to do well, though after his long FFXI hiatus, he's rustier than all hell. I'd normally ream him more and make sure he was playing as closely to perfect as possible, but we've also got a NIN in the party and I'm able to keep up extra curing slack most days anyway. We do fine and we have fun.

Galbatorix: NIN/WAR - What can you say about "The Chief" without sounding like his personal agent? G-rix is about as professional as they come. He's quiet, he does his job, and he's quite simply the best Ninja I've ever had the pleasure to play with. It's nice that he can go full Damage Dealer style now that we've picked up Encino. Very little fear of anything going wrong when I've got two tanks who're capable of keeping a fight under control.

Sodako: THF/NIN (occasionally /WAR) - Soda had reached 59THF on a previous character, and in our static this time around has surpassed that. He's got lots of pulling experience, unlike some Thieves (and pullers in general) who keep you multi-tasking more than anything. Soda averages about one link per session, rarely more than that. He's got WHM experience too (Lv75) so I get advised (see also: hassled) about my White Mage and he's also pretty good with keeping the party's pace manageable MP-wise.

Sicfreak: DRG/SAM - Sic is another of my oldest friends, and he'd be considered Draco's brother if it wasn't for Sic being a Hume. He's got experience in damn-near every job in the game, much like me. We are also kindred spirits in the fashion of dropping a job and picking it up at completely arbitrary and unpredictable times. Thursday was our first session including Sic's Dragoon, and having his steady damage will be helpful throughout the push to 75.

Valion: COR/RNG - A career Samurai first, Paladin second, and now Corsair, Valion is one of the most experienced players I know. For this static, Val brings camp knowledge, advice, pulling if needed, and of course, a smartass attitude. What more could I need? Oh, right... he also has those fancy little Phantom Rolls. Refresh and extra MP recovery while resting for me, and any combination of various effects for the melee jobs. Extra Critical-Hit rate, Double Attack rate, Accuracy, Attack, and more. Add in a Corsair's damage from Guns and the party slot couldn't have been more aptly filled.

Draconum: WHM/BLM (or /RDM) - I'm mostly here to tell the other guys when & where to show up and to stand around being charming and... I dunno, whatever else it is I do. By and large, I'm OK at keeping everything going smoothly from my end, but then again I'm fairly spoiled working with the boys. WHM at this point is a lot of Haste and Regen. Once we hit Caedarva Mire's Imps, I'll be busy with Silena as well, but it's really not that bad. I'll probably start subbing RDM (I've dubbed this combo "Pink Mage") for Dispel on mobs like Imps who enjoy their Blaze Spikes. All in all, I'm probably not an amazing White Mage, but with a crew like this, who cares? I'm not trying to be a career mage, never wanted to in fact, so in the end it works fine.

In Wings of the Goddess areas, you can look to the skies and see what would appear to be a comet streaking by. At first it was just a neat aesthetic but after thinking about it some more, I've begun to theorize a bit about this visual clue's relation to the WoG storyline. I'm curious to see what happens, as this will be my first expansion in which I can fully participate from the get-go. I'll stay tuned~

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

White Magic Funguar.

This entry's title has a couple references in it, so let's start with that. Obviously, the song "Black Magic Woman" is relevant. The funguar part is two-fold: FFXI has monsters called Funguar which are big, vicious mushrooms. My Linkshell has a long-time member (and long-time friend of mine) named Fugiwara. Fugi has been referred to as "Funguar" for a while now. He's a Dragoon and, more often of late, a White Mage. Ta-da! Title found.

Tuesday, I spent more time with Dancer. I had hit level 15 the day before, and thereby had learned Curing Waltz. This is a Job Ability that cures the target party member for approximately 70HP. In my opinion, this has thrown the balance and fun-factor of Dancer into overdrive for this level range. The Waltz is an instant-cast "spell" (to use the term loosely) because it's a JA. It costs me 20TP (note: not MP) for those 70HP. My current Dancer weapon is still Hand-to-Hand, and I've been forgoing Weapon Skills in favor of having a good supply of TP for essentially unlimited curing and draining (via Drain Samba).

Fort Ghelsba death-by-Orc:

After reaching 15, the job became not only much easier but much more entertaining. I've got two different dance animations and two different ways to keep my HP up and by corollary, the XP flowing. Soloing (due to overabundance of Dancer & Scholar parties) is efficient, and I'm capable of killing anything up to Tough without breaking much of a sweat. Dancer isn't exactly a heavy-hitter, so of course the higher the mob is, the longer it takes to kill due to the HP and defense of the enemy.

Dancing while duoing with Valion, showing off for Aerroenu:

Dying alongside Val:

Fugiwara came out to Raise me after a rough solo death in Buburimu:

Later in the day, I told Fugiwara it was about time we got him the rest of his White Mage Artifact. He was missing the hands and body piece. Now, for those who don't know, the WHM AF body is among the more difficult pieces to obtain (at least in many players' opinion). There is an NM in Fei'Yin who is no joke, and the pop item for that NM is a pain to acquire. Well, it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. That someone is me (backed up by Sodako, of course). Soda hopped on THF and I got on DRG, and we headed to The Eldieme Necropolis.

The annoying thing about these Dark Stalker enemies is that there are four spawns in the camp, and they repop about every 15 minutes. Thus, if it takes 20 mobs to get a drop, you're looking at quite a time investment. I've been through this process all-too-many times already, and this trip wasn't so bad 'cause we spent most of it talking in LS chat. I also broke out Final Fantasy IV for in-between times. We did get the drop eventually, and Fugi asked if we'd be able to get the NM killed as well.

Sodako made a semi-entertaining comment that we wouldn't likely get the people to do this fight, but that "Draco has a way of pulling these things out of his ass" at times. Well, he's right: I do have people who are cool with dropping on a dime to take a trip all the way out to Fei'Yin for a nasty NM fight. I love it when these things come together.

While waiting for everyone to get ready, Bloodless let us inside his Mog House:

Again, this NM is a Fomor (undead ghost-things, essentially) and this one is among the meaner I've encountered in my career. As soon as Altedour pops, he generally casts an AoE spell, in this case, Waterga III. His Dimensional Death move cuts big hunks of HP off and as you can see here, he did it to me:

Luckily I was the only one to die and the battle was successful. Fugi got his Healer's Briault and posed for a quick pic before heading out:

Another day in the books! Until next time~

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Transient Dreaming... Of You?

Dancer is proving difficult for me, which is simultaneously funny and incredibly frustrating. I started the job simply to screw around, but once I decided I wanted to take it a little higher, it suddenly became a bloodbath. I've died more times on Dancer going from 1 to 13 than I have on anything else for months. Perhaps I've just lost the ability to efficiently solo at low levels, I dunno. After all, it's been quite a while since I had a low job.

In other expansion news, Wings of the Goddess has begun to disappoint me. Once the initial rush wore off and I had seen what Vana'diel looked like 20 years ago, I found I didn't care anymore. There simply isn't much to do yet. I understand that Square-Enix likes to add content as we go, but WoG feels incomplete and hurried. I've already finished my quests and missions (except the Scholar job flag quest). Campaign is a nice idea, and in fact is right up my alley. Smaller-scale battles that occur across the world, and in fact often, are more manageable for me than Besieged. This Campaign NPC has a new set of armor that I'm anxiously awaiting SE to make available to players:

I've been on a couple missions in the Chains of Promathia storyline over the last week or so. I finally got around to doing Diabolos, listed as CoP 3-5, with Bloodless, Enyae, Jiaye, and a couple people we picked up in town.

First run didn't work out, but we rounded up a replacement for the Summoner we had and won round two. I was much more satisfied with my own personal performance the second try, so it worked out nicely that we won. Couple pictures here:

We ran over the plan and prepared to face Diabolos.

We died and took a little nap.

After the win, I got a nifty little title called "Transient Dreamer." I'm not sure why but I just like the sound of it. Of course it was almost immediately replaced with the WoG titles.

The next battle is against Ouryu, an Earth-based Wyrm. This fight, without getting into the details, didn't go all that well for us. We tried four times and didn't come away with a win. I'll bring a Paladin tank next time, 'cause Ninja was just way too flimsy against this thing.

Last but not least, Liabelle has hit 65 which is the Adventuring Fellow cap level. I had been working at this for quite some time so it was a nice little accomplishment. The Yagudo were being stingy with a coffer key, so fighting a bunch gave Lia the EXP she needed to finally level-up and acquire Wheeling Thrust. This also means I can make a Light Skillchain with Liabelle. Bonus!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

WoGgles: The Pictures.

This post is for the initial Wings of the Goddess experiences. I've done a few things in the new zones so far, but when I get more time I'll probably explore a bunch more. As I've stated, I love time travel as a concept, so I am quite happy to run around and just see places that are familiar and yet different at the same time. Without further delay, on to the screenshots.

I unlocked Dancer, incidentally as a joke. For weeks now, I've been puzzled as to - A: why and B: how - this job was going to be implemented. Turns out I was pleasantly surprised, at least so far. The job has Dagger, Evasion, and Parrying skills that look to be roughly a B letter grade (not definitive as of this writing). The job consumes TP to use dances, and thus needs to be supplied with those TP as plentifully as possible. The fact that Hand-to-Hand skill was barely lower than Dagger (at least for now, obviously) coupled with Dancer's ability to equip Cesti equaled "Draco's Dancer." This being a DNC/MNK (yes, Monk sub, which from using /search didn't seem widespread among the populace) and using my fists instead of daggers. The first WS is Combo, which is a hell of a lot more useful than Dagger's Wasp Sting. Additionally, Monk sub helps TP gain and keeps me alive a little better. Combined with Drain Samba (essentially making me absorb HP every time I connect a hit), I had nearly no downtime.

Draco as a Dancer caused a bit of a fuss around the 'Navi LS, so over the course of the last couple days, many of the linkies have followed me around watching me act like a goof. Here, Sorjorn showed up for when I dinged 05, and acquired my first dance:

Fmtwo and Llewelyn chased me around King Ranperre's Tomb as I approached level 10. Much laugher and making fun of Draco occurred.

I happened upon Jaggedy-Eared Jack, a rare Notorious Monster in West Ronfaure that drops an accessory called the Rabbit Charm. I've killed him a few times over the years, but have yet to see a drop.

This is a shot of Batallia Downs [S] when Jiaye, Galbatorix, and I were heading to Jugner Forest [S] for a quest. The [S] denotes that it is in the past, the Wings era.

These mobs are pretty interesting-looking, though I've not fought many thus far. The name is hard to read, but says "Gnole." They look somewhat like werewolves or nasty moles or some such. At least it's a new graphic, 'cause recycling is bad, mkay?

I ran across this huge Sandworm monster while heading through the Batallia zone. It's an NM and a party was fighting it, but here it looks as if it's chasing me.

Here is a new version of the old bomb: the Djinn. This particular instance involved Galb and I getting rocked to the tune of 4K damage when this little creep exploded. Really cool looking mob, but unfortunately I'll be avoiding them for the rest of my natural life.

Here we have new Gigas mobs, which were Very Tough to me at 75, in the Vunkerl Inlet [S] between Jugner and Ronfaure.

Here's just a peaceful view of part of the Inlet zone. Lots of aggro even to a 75 here, but it's a decent place to run around.

From peaceful to dangerous, these new Orcs are not terribly friendly. Many of the Orcs in the past areas are same as the present, but these armored ones are new.

Ladybugs are an actual annoyance to me in the wintertime of Minnesota, but in the game they're an Easy Prey mob to my 75 which are amusing to kill.

Easily the most unique of the new mobs so far is the Pixie. These are EP to my 75 and do not aggro from what I can tell. Their graphic is cool, and they have a truly singular behavior that sets them apart: Pixies Cure and even Raise players. Run past one with low HP and they'll patch you up. Die near one and a Raise III is your reward.
I've also tried to solo near the Pixies with my Dancer. They've cured and raised me but they cannot be trusted! Sometimes, they just let you die.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wings of the Turkey Day.

Here you can see Gaea, the Corsair who partied with us for quite a while one night. She's the leader of Revelations, the Einherjar LS I've run with. I need to get back on track with timing and figure out which runs I can attend, but I'm trying.

Gaea also happens to have all jobs 66+ and has a Maat's Cap, which is one of those goals many players are secretly aspiring to but many of those players also sorta hope they never reach. (Sodako used to tease that I was on my way to getting one, and lately I worry it'll actually happen...)

White Mage is about 5K off hitting level 65. The static, which has been comprised of three people (Galb, Soda, me), caught up with Encino's PLD and thus we have added him. Then it was realized that Sicfreak is a level 65DRG. Valion's COR is not far ahead, and thus we now have a six-person party covering the bases. Hitting 75 should be enjoyable, provided we can manage so many schedules.

I had to take this shot of Popstar on his Bard simply because it looks so goofy. That's not a dig directed at him specifically; Bard just looks fashionably-challenged almost the whole way to 75. We made three separate trips to the Bird Cage to get his Artifact leg armor, which was frustrating Soda but gave yours truly plenty of targets to kill.

This is Draco-BRD being musical even when traversing Southie. My Bard is now 68 and is ever-so-close to being finished up. The levels are long but at least the invites are plentiful. I can essentially log in and get some Bard XP any time I please, which not many jobs can boast.

Wings of the Goddess has officially released! I was actually not anticipating picking it up right away. However, on Wednesday I was in a Best Buy and couldn't resist. Chains of Promathia didn't excite me much when it was released. Treasures of Aht Urghan was interesting and I wanted it, due to some pretty serious new areas and content that sounded great.

This time around, I was ambivalent. Right away when they announced the concept (going back in time twenty years to actually participate in the war that shapes FFXI's backstory), I was intrigued. I have loved time travel theory since I was a little boy, and I've always obsessed over videogames that implement the feature.

Then Square-Enix announced there'd be two new jobs. I kinda cringed because we don't need more jobs, and I knew this was an effort to hook people into keeping the game going longer. It could of course be argued that's what the whole expansion is, but I mean from a balance aspect. Eighteen jobs is honestly plenty and it's not like we're at a lack of content in this game. It'd take a normal person ten years to get through all this stuff (and it's taken half that for the people who... well, let's call them the "More/Less Fortunate). I decided if they're adding new jobs, certainly one of them is going to be a tank, because that's the only class we're severely lacking. Two out of eighteen jobs can viably tank (one, if you count the fact Ninja is usually lame).

After raising a stink about Chocobo Knight being the new tank, partially in jest and partially in high hopes, I was disappointed to find that we're just getting two more amalgamated hybrid jobs. I don't really have anything against adding jobs, but it just seemed unnecessary to add things for cool factor rather than what we need as a community.

As details surfaced of content, new monsters, areas, and jobs, I was becoming fairly disinterested overall. However, in the days leading up to release, I got pumped up to see what Vana'diel looked like twenty years ago. I'm thinking that the time travel alone sold me on Wings of the Goddess, because I don't know what else I'd want. That said, I installed it last night. I'll give details of my first evening with WoG in a later blog entry.

Thanksgiving is upon us and in full swing as I write this. I've got food cooking and family/friends around me. On a serious note, there's a lot that gets taken for granted in life, and it's all-too-easy to get swept up in the problems while forgetting what we've actually got. Personally, I have felt I was on top of the world at times and I've felt like I was at the bottom of the barrel. It's important to me to keep life in some sort of perspective. A great many life-changing things has happened to me sporadically over the last couple years and again with some major events the last few months. I know what I do have going for me, and I'm thankful that I have a life worth the struggle.

On a lighter note, I'd like to take this little opportunity to say that I appreciate the friends and family I have around me. Regardless of situational factors, I've got a crew of zany characters who're always at the ready, either to make life more enjoyable, to hassle me, to help me out when I need, to give me something to do, or just be around so I'm not wandering around aimlessly like a stray cat.

Here's hoping everyone has a safe and happy holiday. A toast to good health, good friends, good times, and good food.

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."
~Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monk: It's All the Rage!

My brother Cali tells me he arrived at the port in Bastok to find these two characters cuddling. He gave a "/disgusted" emote to each. They both examined (via /check) him, and then Cali proceeded to ruin the moment and sit on their laps as well. I don't know about anyone else, but I find this amusing.

Dynamis - Bastok occurred again on Friday night. I really wasn't in the mood to go, but I was hoping for a drop of my PLD relic headgear. Well, it took four Bastok runs to get this "common drop" (according to others) but I finally did.
This piece is important to me personally due to the fact that I detest the Adaman barbuta I was previously wearing to this point. Purple turtle shell on my head... Thanks, but no thanks. I actually happen to dislike wearing any helmets that cover my head when on Paladin, so I was very pleased to once again have a coronet.

The only other thing worth noting is that I'm about sick of certain people's big mouths and egos. "Endgame drama" has always been something I knew existed and wanted no part of, and as such I have yet to verbally tear a rift through this derelict adolescent's universe. However, I'm no longer interested in his antics.

I have come to acquire Horomusha Kote and a Jujitsu Gi with Monk in mind, but Samurai and Ninja can wear these pieces as well. For the sake of enjoyment, I took SAM out a bit and got it up to 40.

The rest of my weekend belonged to Monk. I had previously been having a rough time getting my Monk into a party, with no invites and no party-building opportunities. I had been resting at 37 when, on Sunday, I got into a party. This was all well and good, though I didn't start off in the mood to XP for long. However, every time a member would leave, a replacement arrived. This continued until no one from the original party was left but me. Hey, if you keep putting things in front of me, I'll keep killing it. It was a good run for Monk, for the following occurred:

Level 38

Level 39

Level 40

Level 41

Level 42

At level 40 I had some important gear changes. The bad news was that I didn't have them with me, since I had not been to town for quite some time. This wasn't a huge problem and I wasn't going to complain by any means. As soon as the party broke, however, I was anxious to get my new gear equipped. Level 41 brought two things: Job Ability called Chi Blast, which is a long-range attack usable every three minutes, and Weapon Skill called Raging Fists, which is a five-hit combination that will essentially be all I use for a long while.

These two factors have increased the fun of playing MNK quite a bit, and when coupled with the job's innate "cool" factor leaves me with a project I'm going to really like to work on.

I just love the way my Monk looks in his equipment now. My next milestone is 50/51 where I get Double Attack from WAR sub and Kick Attacks, for even more damage. I can't wait. Until next time~