Friday, April 24, 2009

Salvage, Ode to Life Bestowing and Vacations

Rather typical Thursday evening for me. I got another couple sub-craft levels and cleaned out a lot of junk that had accumulated in my storage space. Not sure how it happened, but my damn mog satchel is already 50/80...

While crafting, I was invited by Mexican to do the final BC for A Crystalline Prophecy, "Ode to Life Bestowing." Dragging Kay along, we formed a party set up of WHM, SMN, BLM, PLD, RNG and DRG.

We didn't win.

That BC isn't ridiculously difficult, but it's another example of SE's inability to create multiple ways to defeat something of that nature. Unless you're loaded with ranged damage (SMN, COR, RNG, etc), a win looks rather unlikely.

On top of that...Seed Thrall Qtipus needs to be KO'd asap.

The Seed Thrall hits Treaugue for 420 points of damage.
Additional Effect: Defense Down.

Yeah...apparently it mirrors and utilizes all of Gungnir and poor Treaugue (who was our PLD wearing a lot of -damage gear...) got the worst of it. I have WHM leveled, so it's not like I don't have the option of going in there as something that's apparently a lot more useful than my DRG is, but creating a BC where ranged damage is really your only "safe" source of damage just eliminates a lot of the potential fun of a fight like this. Aside from the standard "tank/support/dd" party set up, people shouldn't have to crawl all over the place looking for very specific pieces to win a BC. The fun in a fight like this is pick up and go with a challenge presented to the group you take in. Not to worry about having to crawl back through Delkfutt for key items if you lose and having to worry about finding multiple people that ensure a safe win.

And the Delkfutt level 30 re-crawl if you lose shows us that SE apparently hasn't learned the lessons of CoP's failures. CoP is a great expansion with a great end-game area and a lot of new/innovative additions to the game, but it was made entirely obvious that the playerbase was very unhappy with anything that's level capped as it relates to progressing a story in a game, yet here we are staring at a level-capped asshattery all over again.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of examples throughout the game where SE had a great boss with very few absolute necessities in regards to job set ups. The Alexander fight at the end of ToAU comes to mind along with the Zilart Brothers fight at the "end" of CoP. Every time SE puts a fight like this in the game, I want to find the developers, make them sit in whitegate for hours on end searching for people to do the fight with them, rig the BC so they lose and have to do that f***ing stupid dungeon crawl again, then watch them have to shout for more people when their existing party gets disenchanted with the time invested in having to crawl up again.

And yeah...I'll be doing the fight again at some point in the near future. Onto happier subjects!


Did Zhayolm Remnants last night. Skillchaining is starting to be used a lot between Inbred and myself. Mostly we just unload King's Justice - Drakesbane or vice versa depending if Warrior's Charge and some of the other job abilities are up for a very solid light chain.

I'm not sure if this is something that's broken or not, but during the course of our fights with the 5th and 6th floor Poroggo Madame, Leg Sweep's stun duration was lasting an insanely long time. Usually if the stun lands, it lasts about 5-10 seconds or so tops (if even that sometimes). I had at least 3 leg sweeps last night where the stun lasted upwards of 15-20 seconds. I didn't have 300 TP for any of them (barely over 100 every time I used it since I generally spam the WS instead of watching for moves), but the only difference I noticed is that it seemed like the duration was effected by how much damage I did with the WS itself as opposed to the amount of TP I had when I used it. Normally my leg sweep damage is in the 150-250 range, but last night I was consistently over 400 and even topped out at 750+ for one of them (crit presumably...didn't see TP return). I may run out and do some testing somewhere at some point to verify it.

Run was very smooth. Knocked out 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th floor frogs along with Jakko and the Battleclad Chariot. I believe we only got Frog Chorus'd twice the entire run. All of us were on top of our stuns. This run also marked the first time Izman and I spammed skillchains instead of just spamming our WS. We were generally at the same TP level the entire fight (which speaks volumes to how improved DRG is compared to the way it was years ago when it was considered an lol job as well as volumes about the effectiveness of 2H weapons in general now). We ended up dropping the boss in about 6-7 minutes with just Izman and I has the sources of damage and our THF dumping a WS on from time to time. Only 35 drop we got for our trouble was a pair of Macha's Pigaches that were free lot and I didn't notice who won them.


Starting tomorrow, I'll be on the road until Sunday evening and I'll be spending the week at The Girlfriend's place for her b-day. Driving from KY to CT is a long haul punctuated by some very boring highway time in PA. (Seriously....can't you guys put some fake roadkill or something along the side of I-80 every few miles?). All of you in my cell phone book are now being put on blast...expect lots of quality phone time with Q on Sunday. :)

Blog may or may not get updated while I'm up there.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Internet Anonymity and Stereotypes

We've all heard the commercials. The one where a lady starts off by complimenting someone's makeup, then instantly turns around and starts making disparaging and very demeaning remarks about anything and everything under the assumption "these are things that none of us would ever actually say to someone's face, so why would we say them on the internet?"

Having a life that revolves around the internet makes the vast majority of us guilty of this to some degree. That degree of guilt may not be felt by a specific individual, but someone else's opinion may make you guilty of it in their eyes. As the internet has grown more and more interwoven into our daily lives, it's given voice to a large number of people who normally wouldn't have had one for various reasons. Age, self-esteem, inability to articulate in a normal conversations, too emotional, etc. The list goes on and on.

Before I continue, I want to point out that my next few paragraphs are not meant to encompass everyone that's ever accessed the internet. I write operating under the thought process that this is the way a majority of people operate and that the vast majority of us fall victim to some of this stuff at some point, including myself.


Stating the obvious, being almost completely anonymous will cause anyone to feel safe saying anything they want. It speaks to several levels of a person's personality when this happens, but you can generally sum it up in a couple categories. The first being that they can be a rotten person at times. The second being they are a coward. I tend to include people who have no qualms speaking their mind in real life in the first group. I tend to include the shy, walked-all-over-by-significant-others/family members, low self-esteem person in the second.

The first group doesn't bother me at all that much. The second group is where I take up issue. Generally speaking, when an opinion is given, it's related specifically towards trying to make the end result of something better.

Do you like this cereal and why?
What do you think of so and so?
What do you think is the best approach to this?

Everyone's opinion counts for something, but it gets discredited a lot if a person doesn't even have the strength to fix the wrongs in their own lives. Or worse yet, won't even try. The internet provides an outlet for a lot of these people to take out their real life frustrations on other people who may or may not trigger emotional similarities to current circumstances they may be experiencing. Again, this doesn't apply to everyone, but it's very hard to avoid thinking that this is the case when I read various posts where someone is telling another person to "kill yourself" or "I hope you get run over by a train". Telling someone these things online is nothing more than an admission of defeat, ignorance and cowardice. It says that you, as a person, do not possess the intelligence level necessary to make your point in a constructive manner.

I have zero patience for what I perceive as cowardice. I simply cannot view an opinion given to me through someone else (girlfriend's opinion given through the boyfriend, friend's opinion given through another friend, anonymous account, etc) or through a means of violent expression as any form of a respectable opinion. More often times than not, I'll just completely disregard whatever was said (which usually just pisses a person off more), but I'm guilty of being sucked into the drama vortex (stooping) from time to time as well. This holds especially true when I perceive cowardice being present in an area I consider "home".

The logic behind it fails me. Online relationship from years and years and years ago is case and point. When I started dating this girl, she had some rather colorful opinions that were only expressed online. When on the phone or face to face? I couldn't get an opinion out of her to save my life. There wasn't a language barrier or anything like that. She was a product of the internet age and had no clue how to express herself person to person. She could only express herself with a keyboard and an IM or Forum. Needless to say, that relationship didn't last too long.

The desire for a person's life to have meaning or importance is the main force behind it. Fear is a main force as well. A person may fear taking the steps in their real lives to say/do the things that would give their lives meaning beyond the day to day routines they go through wishing for something better. Fear of change, fear of non-acceptance, or, mostly, fear of reprocussions. The only reprocussions a person experiences online are words and the occasional mail spam from beastiality sites. There is also the fear of turning out to be villified (and rightfully so in some cases) to the point where no matter what character or identity you create, you've given so much of yourself away that you can be identified and alienated almost instantly.

Bottom line order to gain respect, you have to earn respect and if your real life personality or circumstances aren't all that respectable and you like to place the blame for your current lot in life on everything else but yourself (there are exceptions), then what you say/do in your interactions with others are going to follow suit. These things make themselves very apparent in more ways than one.


I make a lot of stereotypical jokes and integrate stereotypical references in a lot of my discussions. Some people will get offended by any stereotype that's mentioned, but most people will see it for what it is...a stereotype I'm making fun of.

Stereotypes are simply fodder for comedy to me. I don't buy into any of them nor do I think they apply to the entire group of people they're poking fun at. A quick run down of the Cast of Characters along the side of this blog will show you that most of those nicknames are stereotypical of some real life facet.

Stereotypes also serve another purpose though. They will tell you how comfortable a person is with theirself. I can make any Cuban joke I want to Cuban and Cuban will return the favor. This means Cuban is comfortable with the fact that...he's Cuban and comfortable with everything that goes along with it. If I made the same Cuban jokes to another Cuban and they got pissed off...then they're either targeted for deportation or they got bit by a shark on the way to the US.


Seriously, if I made the same Cuban jokes to another Cuban and they get pissed off at me, I can only assume this person is ashamed of who he is. That logic doesn't apply to a handful of stereotypes as there are some that just really cross the whole humane line (the n-word and body weight being two of them).

This situation makes me ask three questions:

1. Do I change my personality to accomodate what I perceive as a person's shortcomings?
2. Do I poke and prod my way around someone's head until I figure out why the shame is there to begin with?
3. Do I just avoid said person and go about living my life the way I want to live it?

The answers are simple and not simple:

1. I'll respect the fact it makes them mad, but they have to meet me in the middle. While I won't make jokes at their expense, I'm not going to stop making jokes at someone else's expense if it doesn't offend the target. If they happen to be in party or in linkshell with me, they have to understand this if I'm to understand I can't make jokes at their specific expense.

2. No. Poking and prodding tends to make things worse and cause barriers to be formed. There are better ways of dealing with this, but it's on their schedule. I have to be accepting of what I feel are their shortcomings and determine if I feel like dealing with it.

3. Sometimes this is the better course of action. This will go back to my perceptions about a person.

People tend to get too worked up about these things though. It's almost as if people are just looking for things to pick fights with and nothing has a more obvious trigger than a statement made about someone's race, heritage, nationality, etc. I have the same respect for Tentacle that I do for Inbred. I have the same respect for Old Man that I do for Hot Chocolate and I have the same respect for The Girlfriend as I do The Cuban. Yet in those 6 people, I can make fun of British people, women, aneurysms, deportation, rafts, old people, black people, rednecks, Arkansas mutants, and inbreeding.

It's entirely silly to think that because a stereotype might apply to a portion of your skin color that I respect you less. Yes there are people out there that are dumb enough to let that be a factor in judging someone, but a person has to realize intelligence from ignorance. Become outraged when a statement is made in ignorance. Just chuckle or laugh when it's made out of intelligence.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Short term goals and thoughts on the SE.

We're in the dead period between updates currently. The luster of the new items/events has worn off and now we're being fed with the typical seasonal fluff from SE before our next string of update notes come along. Obviously we have Mog Bonanza coming out, but that's more or less limited to about 30 minutes of marble purchasing, then 30+ days of waiting to potentially collect your prizes.

SE's announcement of the Community Team tour of Pet Food Alpha, He Says She Says and Limit Break Radio has brought up some thoughts about how SE interacts with it's playerbase and things I would certainly like to know about how SE operates.

First and foremost, I would like to know just how many teams SE is carrying around that are specifically related to FFXI (<----HUGE F***ING HINT HERE KALLO). It seems like every other week, there's an interview with a team no one's ever heard of. Granted, there are some good tidbits of information that come out of these interviews from time to time, but the vast majority of the questions the playerbase want answers to are answered with:

1. I'm sorry we cannot comment on that (at this time).
2. That's (insert name here)'s area, you'll need to ask them.

I figure if we know the list of teams, we can eliminate half the canned responses SE likes to give us during interviews. Got a question about AV? Go ask the CoP team. Question about seasonal events? Go ask the community team. Question about the salvage bannings? Yeah good luck finding the team responsible for those decisions, but it was a team nonetheless (guessing sub-team of the STFU).

What is really the point of these interviews if you're not going to answer the questions the players want? I'd rather no interviews happen at all if these are the only answers we're going to get. Circular finger pointing and non-answers just frustrate the people that are paying you guys. I get that some things should be kept a secret, but'd think 3+ years after it's creation we'd get more than a vague video zooming in on various bits of text in regards to how AV is taken down.

The only point I get to these interviews is that SE has an agenda to push in regards to update details and cares very little about the fandom at this point in time. When revenues start to slip, we'll most likely get answers, but until then, SE is going to work harder to guard these answers than they will to improve the game even more. I'm not saying the game isn't awesome (otherwise I wouldn't keep paying for it month after month), but it really seems detrimental from a revenue building standpoint.

Actually I should qualify the first sentence of that last paragraph with SE has given the fans a lot of what they want. Unfortunately, what they've given us lately were things that should have been implemented a long time ago. Extra storage space, closer NPC's for outpost warping, XP ring rechargings from anywhere etc.

Very little of it has been directed towards the end-game community...which is generally the portion of the community that makes up a good chunk of their consistent monthly revenues. SE gets a boon from fair-weather players each month, but those do not make up their core playerbase. This is what SE needs to realize a lot sooner than later and stop feeding us with these canned responses to legit questions. End-game got a whole slew of new critters to kill with the ZNM system that can be downed in less than 10 minutes for the most part, but didn't get answers to how they can kill AV or PW w/o needing 60+ people (and even then your chances are slim). End-game got a reduction in dynamis fees and an increase in drop rates, but didn't get instanced dynamis. End-game got additional places for king abjurations to drop, but the drop rate is even more horrible than fighting the kings themselves and the problem of botting kings still hasn't been fixed (instance it in their respective spawn areas and raise the difficulty). End-game gets plenty of new stuff that keeps it entertained for a couple weeks, but the things that they have really been wanting for years now haven't been addressed at all.

Anyway, I've ranted long enough on that for the other part of my title.

Short-term goals.

Aside from the obvious gear-related goals (Ares Legs, N.Head/Legs, White Tathlum, and Cuchulain's Mantle), I have several other goals that I'd like to accomplish within the next few months. So a quick bulleted list of what I plan on doing:

  • I've decided after I get PLD to 75 next week that I'm going to take DRK to 75.
  • Cooking to 60.
  • Smithing to 60.
  • Goldsmithing to 60.
  • Goldsmithing Key Item for making vivified mythril.
  • PLD Merits (haven't decided which yet).
  • DRK Merits (haven't decided which yet).
  • Maat Jobs to 37. RDM (32), BRD(1), SMN (2), BST (24), MNK (15) and RNG (28) only ones left.
  • SCH sub for WHM.
  • Likely another support/mage job to level. Looking at SCH or BLM.
  • Stage 3-4 on a 2nd relic that I'm going to keep as a surprise for now. :)

By the end of July or August, I'll come back to this post and see how many of those things I've actually accomplished.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Happenings and Skillchains

Didn't do too much this weekend as most of my week-long plans blew up for various reasons. Got a couple ANNM runs in along with the usual Einherjar run (more on that in a bit) and a couple Salvage runs. I also spent a little time trying to finish up my cooking subcraft.


I have to say that SE really nailed it with this one. What looked rather bland at first with mediocre rewards has turned out be just the right level of challenging with some kick ass rewards. You can pretty much put a pickup party of 6 together and do these with some moderate difficulty.

Each nation has it's own "crate" you can blow up once per earth day for a total of 3 fights. Buying all three crates involves spending 7500 of your Allied Notes. This is relatively cheap unless you're spamming all three each day you can (which most people probably won't). Each fight has a 30 minute time limit. I've only done Batallia, Rolanberry, and Champaign, but the level of those three fights are such that if you're not mostly on top of your game, it can go to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly. Each of these fights are generally the same in terms of mob numbers. They spawn a big NM and 6 "babies".

The babies are generally pretty weak. Five or six of them beating on one target can definitely kill said target pretty quickly, but a solid skillchain will knock most of the HP off of one. For most of our runs, we went set up as PLD, DD, DD, DD, RDM, WHM. The PLD spent time holding/kiting the main NM while the DDs picked off the babies after the RDM slept them. This sounds a lot more simple than it really is though.

In Champaign for example...a Lynx by the name of Iqi-Balam. Coeurl/Lynx mobs of higher level usually aren't much fun to deal with given they love to inflict status effects through a variety of annoying TP moves. Iqi-Balam has the ability to cast T1-T4 thunder spells (and Burst) on itself then immediately follow it up with Charged Whisker. Now Charged Whisker on a normal Coeurl or Lynx wasn't a super big deal. Worst I had seen was from a War Lynx and that did 400ish tops to me. Charged Whisker from Iqi-Balam basically turns whatever thunder spell it just cast on itself into an AoE centering on itself. Burst-ga isn't fun. It's possible to stun the spell it's casting, but it's generally just safer to run away from him as most of the spells have a long cast time.

Rolanberry's ANNM is just vile. Slugs are some of the worst mobs to fight in this game already, but SE's development team decided making Gummy Guillaume a super hump-happy, AoE status-flinging, flee-speed slug. Weren't slugs already bad enough? Gummy Guillaume will try to sit right on top of you the entire time you're fighting it. If it manages to get on you, it will inflict Amnesia, Gravity and Poison. This is just the icing though. It has the ability to inflict Silence, Bio, Bind personal favorite...Encumberance. Nothing like being stripped naked, humped by a slimy object, bound, poisoned, and being forced into silence/forgetting it all ever happened.

Somebody at SE has some deep issues they should seek professional counselling about.


For the life of me, I cannot figure out how SE managed to make the difficulty gap between the various combinations of rooms so wide. Some rooms we just walk in, point at the mobs, say "boo-yah" and win. Other rooms, like the past two T2's we've done, have nearly impossible-to-win set ups. Personally, I get the feeling every time we see Ormr, Einherjar Brei or Winebibber's, we should just drop our lamps and call it a day. Sometimes they're squishy though, so it's always worth trying. The past two T2's we've done have had 12 super powered Einherjar Brei (slimes) that have basically just AoE'd us to death despite having head butts, stuns and WS stuns firing the vast majority of time. Walking into a T2 room with 34+ people should pretty much amount to a win with some difficulty.

It's really odd that we're dominating T3 rooms lately, but getting raped on T2. I can only shake my head though. Our strat with slimes obviously needs a little tweaking as what we're doing atm obviously isn't working, but as is the case with any strat tweak...what are we sacrificing in order to gain? Is sacrificing a couple DDs for more stuns worth it when you're faced with whatever percentage chance of slimes showing up? It's such an irony. I'm prone to say it's just bad luck with these things...but then I think luck has nothing to do with it and there has to be a way around it. I'm sure I'll think of something at some point or someone will put an idea in my head to try.


Nothing super-noteworthy here other than mentioning Ringthree got a Macha's Coat (which seem to be raining for us lately), Kallo got his Freya's Ledelsens and Omoikitte got Hikazu Kabuto. Definitely been a nice week for 35 piece acquisition and congrats to the winners.

(I fully expect a blog entry from Ring with his plan to pay for his Morrigan's Robe complete with old man rants about the cost of the Imp. Wootz Ingots. :D)

However, during SSR last night, Izman started showing off his newly acquired King's Justice weapon skill. Iz had been the subject of a lot of fodder since Blaize and I discovered KJ - Drakesbane just absolutely destroys most mobs in SSR. It is not uncommon for one of these skillchains (which makes light either way) to wipe out 60-70%+ of a mob's HP in this zone. Which leads me to my next subject....


This is definitely a lost art now with most skillchains happening completely by accident. In this Zerg/Manaburn era, Skillchains take too much effort to coordinate and often times, too much time to execute (SE could fix this by removing the timer between weapon skills).

However, they aren't completely dead. In low man situations like Salvage, skillchains are relatively easy to set up and execute. It goes back to initiative and education though. More often times than not, a skillchain won't be set up at all. Some will think that they can build up TP faster than waiting another couple swings for a SC partner to get to 100TP and more damage.

Last night's SSR really showed the destructive power a long skillchain can accomplish. Blaize figured out using Killing Ifrit's SC calculator that, Ascetic's Fury - Tachi: Rana - King's Justice - Drakesbane turned out this 4-step light skill chain that generally knocked the shit out of anything we executed it on. Archaic Ramparts on the 4th floor of SSR required to pop Citadel Chelonian? Down in a minute.

Add the 5th step of...Geirskogul for double light and you have mobs like Gyroscopic Gears losing well over 7-8k HP in one sequence (or about 50-60% of it's life). And yes, I understand most Salvage groups don't have a relic weapon at their disposal to do this, but even the 4 step SC was a ton of what amounts to free extra damage.

For most of the run though, we were executing Tachi: Gekko - Drakesbane - King's Justice on practically every monster. It did take a little coordination, but I feel like the results paid off in a big way for us. If this chain becomes second nature, look the hell out.

The bigger point of this section is simply to point out that I feel like everyone should be familiar with a few Skillchains that are common with job pairings. My gut reaction, for example, is when I see someone use Penta Thrust, I'll dump Skewer on whatever we were fighting. If I see Guillotine or Dancing Edge, I'll dump Penta Thrust. If I see Dragon Kick or Shark Bite, I'm using Wheeling Thrust. The list goes on and on, but it doesn't take memorizing the entire chart. It simply takes memorizing a handful of 2-man skillchains and paying attention to who uses what and when. More often times than not, that extra damage from the skillchain itself is more than the damage done by waiting a couple extra swings to see if anyone just unloads.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Square Enix Security Token

Got this in the mail yesterday afternoon. I have to admit...SE made setting this thing up super easy. I had all three of my accounts linked and mog satchel'd in about 10 minutes.

A lot of people have griped about SE "selling the mog satchel with the added bonus of a security key". (Ring likes to refer to this mentality as the slippery slope theory.) Square-Enix has been offering up in-game items and features for a long time. Fanfests over the years have often had an in-game bonus item for attending players. Some of the merchandise SE has offered through their online store comes with various pieces of furniture or once/day teleport items. It's not at all uncommon for SE to do something like this.

I think the primary reasons this has caused such an uproar are 1) inventory space is something players have been asking about for a long time, 2) account security is something else players have been asking about for a long time and 3) I don't think most of the fan base want to push a button to log in every time just to have access to another large cache of inventory spots. It's laughable at most. SE is most likely losing money in this endeavor to give their playerbase two things they actually want, yet a not-so-large percentage of the playerbase throws a tantrum about it. Sense of entitlement anyone?

As for Ring's slippery slope theory...I agree with this for the most part. Just observing recent trends with SE though, what started out as trinkets related to fanfest items has definitely ballooned into more. Now a lot of items for sale come with in-game items as a bonus. All of those items up to this point were things that you could just categorize as fun. This is the first time SE has added something players have been demanding onto an item you absolutely had to purchase to activate. They even went as far as to place the Mog Satchel menu option there even if you hadn't purchased the security token.

I'm not going to chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling this issue though. It's SE's property, they can do what they want with it. If fans don't like it, they'll give SE the finger and move on. On top of that, I seriously doubt SE would start charging for things like updates, patches, and bug fixes as some have asserted. Those that sincerely believe the $150 or so per year they pay to SE entitles them to get everything SE offers for free seriously need to reconsider just what they're already getting for that relatively small investment. This particular item with the bonus of the Mog Satchel was a necessary move by SE in order to preserve their bottom line.

Let me just tell you...

I work in IT. The sheer amount of time I spend dealing with idiotic customers surfing around on the net for "free" stuff and ultimately compromising their machine's security alone is enough to keep me occupied for the vast majority of each work day. Do you think developing new content, ironing out bugs, dealing with in-game issues, marketing the product, extending your company's reach into other forms of media and maintaining server hardware on top of that level of support can reasonably keep your MONTHLY fee that low for very long? I'm more surprised we haven't had our monthly subscriptions raised to pay for playerbase idiocy than I am at the revelation SE took the initiative and more or less eliminated a lot of the guess/restoration work. Sure, FFXI isn't the only form of revenue SE has, but out of that list I just rambled off, only one of them don't apply if you just look at FFXI's money streams alone.

Bottom line: Kick ass move SE. Do it again. Add more in-game content to anything you want to sell. I may not always purchase it, but I'll always look at it and in the world of business, that's the least any business could ask for.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Going to touch on a subject today that tends to follow me around quite a bit.


From childhood up until I graduated from high school, I was involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. (Get the gay jokes out of the way now Iz.) As I progressed through the various ranks and watched the other guys my age get them before me, I went to Dad pissed off that I wasn't progressing as fast as they were. Dad explained to me that the other guys were progressing as fast as they were because their fathers were pushing them to do it. Shoving them to the next rank wasn't going to offer them the learning rewards of taking time to really soak it all in.

At the time, I didn't understand what Dad meant. All I knew was Dad would help me if I asked, but he wasn't going to take the initiative to do the various projects involved with progressing through the ranks with me. That was all on me.

By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I had attained the rank of Life. For those of you unaware of where that rank stands, it's the 2nd highest rank the scouting program has to offer. By comparison, the guys my age had attained this rank when they were in 8th grade and some had even earned Eagle at this point. I had started a lot of extracurricular activities in high school that had piqued my interest far more than the scouting program did at this point too. Scouting was put onto the back-burner until the start of my senior year.

I found myself at the end of summer just before the school year started wondering what a lot of my old buddies from scouts were doing. As our interests changed, our paths changed and our time spent together changed to near nothingness. I started asking around about them and, much to my dismay, I found out the vast majority of them were on drugs, in jail, or new fathers.

Troubled at this turn of events, I went to Dad again to ask what happened. He didn't really have an explanation as every one of the guys had great, stand up, hard working, parents. But then it dawned on me...

The only plausible explanation was the fact they were pushed at such a young age that they perhaps had built up a false sense of who they were and didn't actually have a clue about themselves at all. Dad knew all along not to push me faster than I wanted to go. Encouragement was the right path to take, but if it was something I sincerely wasn't interested in starting/finishing, doing the work for me offered no satisfaction or gratification to anyone other than him. So many of the lessons I had worked on that didn't quite make sense to me all of a sudden started clicking and I suddenly found myself motivated finish my Eagle Rank.

And before Iz starts laughing more at me, I want to point out that Eagle is sirius biznes. I got letters from Clinton, Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Bob Hope, Colin Powell, Ross Perot, Queen Elizabeth and MANY other prominent figures in the world shortly after I completed the requirements. Seriously, the pile of letters and autographed photos from these guys stands about 6-8" tall...and it's fkn paper stacked that high. I seriously didn't expect that once I completed it.

I'm not going to get into things like the Scout Law and Oath as about half of it doesn't apply to me anyway (courteous? thrifty? reverent?...yeah not words normally associated with my personality :P). What happend through those years was a foundation being laid for my approach to organizing and interacting with projects and people. Since then, pretty much anything I've been involved with, I've ended up leading or co-leading in some capacity w/o even trying to get into those positions. This ranges from being in management of various jobs I've had to being a sackholder in damn near every linkshell I've ever been a part of.

What has generally put me in those positions can be boiled down to one word.


Yes, there are other things that got me there that would probably cause a polarizing debate on my effectiveness. You have to be good with people. You have to have a desire for success. You have to have patience. These are all things that can fail a person at times and I'm certainly no exception to it.

Initiative is what gets noticed though. Going that extra mile to get a job done. It's cliche, but it's the truth. I get called out to work on a server for a company. While I'm working on it, I clean up a messy wire closet. Residential customer calls me out to fix some malware issues. While the scan is running, I teach their kids or grandkids the dos and don'ts of internet surfing. Too often people just do the minimal amount necessary to get the job done.

Applying this to FFXI is same thing. I've been out of end-game for a couple years now mostly due to being burned out from leading. The pattern my in-game life has taken suggests that eventually, I'll be asked to help lead whatever shell I applied to. Of course I can say no and I do not fear saying no, however there is the general feeling that saying no means I'm letting down my teammates. I'm not trying to be egotistical when I say this, but I know the level of preparation I put myself through is above and beyond what most people do for events I'm just taking part in. If I'm leading, that level of preparation from a time stand point can get doubled or tripled.

There are a lot of people in this game who really don't know how lucky they are to just be able to show up to an event that's organized by someone else and benefit from it. A while ago, (slightly)Old(er) Man mused "Everyone should lead a linkshell at least once in their in-game life." (which is generally the statement I take as the primary reason he and I get along now). It's one thing to know what to expect from an event. It's something else entirely to sit at the top and try to make sure EVERYONE knows what to expect from an event and have them in a position to succeed.

But if these people don't understand how lucky they are, why put yourself in the position you're in?

The answer to that comes in the form of rewards.

Each day I lead dynamis for example, I know the work that our team of leaders puts into it contributes to X number of happy members that happened to acquire a piece of AF2 they wanted. For some, that piece of AF2 is reward enough for the work they put in. For others, like me, AF2 is mostly meaningless, but if we have a large amount of success, my reward comes from knowing I helped organize that success. This sort of reward is magnified greatly when it's your close friends getting what they've worked hard to get.

Each day we do Einherjar, I'm hoping something that will help progress someone's character further pops out of that chest or that Odin drops a highly contested abjuration.

Each day I attend salvage, I try to bust my ass so the leadership of that run feels that same reward I feel from dynamis should we experience success. It's far more work from a leadership standpoint, but it's far more rewarding from a personal standpoint. If that makes me selfish in some eyes, so be it. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions, but everyone also has their own reasons for doing what they do that can probably be termed "selfish". (I may blog about the correct use of this word tomorrow at some gets used incorrectly quite a bit.)

Leading isn't easy and it's often times a thankless job. It's downright the most difficult challenge there is in almost any aspect of life. Some people have a more natural ability to be in a leadership position than others. It is safe to say that most people know if they're leadership material or not.

You don't have to be a leader to take initiative though...and initiative goes a very long way towards succeeding in a specific goal.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April showers bring...Einherjar and..."lol your a idiot"

Generally speaking, Tuesdays are a pretty quiet day for me game-wise now. The only event that happens for me is Einherjar with Obsidian. Up until about 2 weeks ago, I would make a mad dash from Einherjar to do Salvage with {Nice to Meet You} :)™'s group, but as she and Blaize have deservingly retired from running Salvage runs, Einherjar is now the only thing I do on Tuesdays.

Obsidian has been doing Einherjar since the beginning of August last year. I've been the one primarily organizing the runs since we started it and I've somehow managed to maintain perfect attendance since we started it. The organizational routine that I put myself in involves:

- Being in front of my PC 2 hours before the run starts to field various bits of info from the forums or from /tells or to prepare myself with who has what feathers from the main roster that I can potentially replace from the waiting list in order to make sure everyone possible has a shot at getting the 3 feathers they need for Odin.

- Making sure parties are posted at least 1-1.5 hours before run starts to give our members ample time to change jobs in the event they need to.

- Pick up Lamp.

- Finding replacements for people who have last minute things come up or simply forget there's an event that day. Replacements generally come from the wait list, but from time to time, I have to yell at the Cuban to come take a spot or send tells to other people in Obsidian who might not have signed up due to the length of the waiting list.

- Collect money.

What's perplexed me the most about organizing runs like these is that it takes FAR more effort and time on my part to keep these things on track than the dynamis counter-part. We've done dynamis for so long, we can literally show up 30 minutes before a run starts and pretty much have all the admin things done within 10 minutes. Since Einherjar isn't as cut and dry as Dynamis though, it takes a lot more effort. It's amazed me that SE has managed to pack so much variety into a 30 minute event.

What's amazed me even more the past couple of months are the lengths that our membership has gone to in order to ensure our runs are timely. Every single run, various members of our group like Ring, Jess, Runestar, Andiara and others are offering up Chester the Molester™ coat warps to Nashmau. We've had party leaders actually being party leaders by tracking down their missing members and keeping me up to date. To some other end-game shells, this may seem like something that should be done anyway. Obsidian isn't an end-game shell though. It's a collection of mostly casual players and various members of other end-game communities. Walking into an Obsidian event, you're not likely to see a ton of salvage gear, kings gear, etc, so expecting every one of these guys to understand concepts that come second nature to a lot of end-game linkshell members will just set yourself up for frustration.

This was a lesson I had to learn the hard way a couple years ago. I had always told myself that "If I refuse to teach, then I have no room to bitch.", but I had never applied it to a lot of my interactions in Obsidian. I'm not saying my expectations were too high for these guys since I still carry the same expectations of them today that I did then, but knowing what I have in this linkshell now vs. assuming what I had back then has made me a lot more patient with people. I would "teach" back then, but it was in the form of bitching at someone until they understood.

Einherjar brought these realizations to the forefront in a drastic fashion when we started doing these runs. Dynamis is cut and dry and most mistakes can be covered up by sheer numbers or go undetected altogether. Mistakes generally do not cost us runs. Mistakes in Einherjar lead to losses. I knew we weren't going to see Odin for at least 2-3 months after we started. All of my research had led me to believe that I needed to figure what we had in a group and develop a strategy based on a combination of that and other sound ideals. It took a lot of tweaking, xp loss, frustration and time, but the past couple of months, I really could not have asked for anything better than what we've had present in the shell. I'll take credit where credit is due, but those giving me credit for building this thing up need to understand one critical piece of information:

I'm nothing w/o people sharing the same goals and ideals.

Last night's Einherjar was a testament to this. Some days, the team trips up and feels very sluggish to respond to commands given over the linkshell. A day like this was last night. People were distracted before the run (including myself), not being super quick moving from mob to mob. Pulls were kind of slow, but this had a legit reason and I only mention it to add to the overall sluggish feel of the run. We still won though and this was due to other members stepping up trying to get everyone on the ball again. It's nights like these where I feel like that even on our worst days, we still manage to pull a win out with a pretty significant chunk of time to spare and makes me realize just how far we've come collectively as a group.

Now to the drama portion of today's post:

I'm not going to name the names of the actual members involved in this, but I will name the mule that managed to irritate me last night.


While trying to organize the run, I ran into one of our new members in Whitegate and figured while I was there, I'd give her a linkpearl. We'll call her "NewMember". (Yeah yeah...original). I completed the trade with NewMember, welcomed her and then ran off for the boat to Nashmau.

A short while later, Tentacle sends me a tell asking about a PM I had sent to NewMember.

Uh...PM? I haven't sent a PM in 2-3 days.

NewMember then sends me a tell asking about the PM I had sent to her. She's rather distraught as the contents of this PM were as follows:

"I hope you're clean now. If I'm sticking my neck out for you in this manner w/o ever having talked to you since you were banned, realize that you've got the benefit of the doubt despite sneaking back in the way that you did"

Now anyone receiving that PM would probably be pissed off. Especially a new member. Putting this bit of information in it's correct context would be as follows:

I sent this PM to Fireballx's new account "Oskilfai" after he managed to bot his way to banishment. He somehow snuck back into Obsidian using Oskilfai's original account information and posing as him. His return created some drama on the forums and the reason I, along with other sacks, gave him a second chance was we believed he learned his lesson. We certainly didn't appreciate how he returned to Obsidian though, so that was what prompted me to send him that PM.

The other VERY critical piece of information about this PM? It was sent to Oskilfai on 12-13-2006. That's 2.5 years ago for those of you following at home yet somehow, NewMember ended up with this PM in their Inbox from me. It wasn't fowarded to her. There was no trace of it in my Sent Items folder. It just simply appeard in her box for reasons I'm still trying to figure out.

About the same time that this is going down, I get a /tell from the aforementioned mule. It simply says "lol your a idiot". Being the practitioner of common sense that I am, there's three things that stand out about this particular line.

1. If you're going to defend your friend from an anon account, try doing it sometime after the drama has settled down. I have a general idea who you are at the moment and as soon as I know for sure, let's just say you better pre-emptively b-list me. You're doing your friend no favors by acting in the moment.

2. Know you facts before you rush to judgement. Xxshadowangelxx's owner decides to cowardly send me a tell from a mule account based on information that was very new and hadn't even been addressed with me yet. Seriously ask yourself the question...Why in the hell would I go give NewMember a linkpearl, then send that PM? Also ask yourself..."Would a PM dated 12-13-2006 actually have ANY relevance to a person that hasn't even been on Odin for a year?

3. If you're going to call someone an idiot, please try not to look like one yourself in doing so. I'm prone to the occasional grammatical slip, but this one line smells of so much idiocy, I can't resist making fun of it. Let's break this down...

"lol your a idiot"

Contractions: a shortened form of a word or group of words, with the omitted letters often replaced in written English by an apostrophe, as e'er for ever, isn't for is not, dep't for department.

Your, You're. It's really simple guys. If YOU'RE unsure of YOUR usage of your or you're, ask yourself if "are" should be present.

"lol your a idiot"

Articles: any member of a small class of words, or, as in Swedish or Romanian, affixes, found in certain languages, as English, French, and Arabic, that are linked to nouns and that typically have a grammatical function identifying the noun as a noun rather than describing it. In English the definite article is the, the indefinite article is a or an, and their force is generally to impart specificity to the noun or to single out the referent from the class named by the noun.

A, An or The. Since "the" isn't in question here, let's focus on the use of "a" and "an".

In first or second grade english class, we learned what articles were and their proper use. "A" is used to precede a noun starting with a consonant. A consonant is generally comprised of 21 of the 26 letters of the alphabet with a few exceptions depending on the word. "An" is used to precede a noun starting with a vowel or a vowel sound. First or second grade english folks. It's not just for rich people.

Bluntly put...



Next English lesson: There, Their and They're. Now I just need this "idiot" to send me another tell with that mistake in it.

The last thing I'll say about this Xxshadowangelxx in this post is:

I hate cowards. Logging onto a mule to insult me then logging back to your main before I even know wtf is going on and not having the balls (or vaginal fortitude possibly in this case) to talk to me one on one when clearly there's been some sort of a misunderstanding speaks deafening volumes about your personality in general. Kudos for wanting to defend your friend in the midst of their issues, but cowardice does absolutely nothing for their defense. Step up and be human Xxshadowangelxx.

Anyway, enough old man rantings today. Ending this on a positive note, Imp. Wootz Ingots have dropped by nearly 1/3 of their value since ANNMs were released. Marduk Body may actually happen if they keep dropping in price. :)

Edit: Canuck just reminded me I needed to make fun of him for spending weeks in Gustav tunnel camping Wyvernpoacher only to see me go down there to farm Sacrifice and get an O.Bow on my first kill.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Splitting Heirs

Ok, it's not the San d'Oria storyline I promised yesterday, but it's San d'Orian related. Since it's at the forefront of my thoughts, it gets it's own blog post.

One of the pieces I've been after to round out my DRG is a Cuchulain's mantle. It is basically a Commander's Cape +1, but compared to my current back piece (Amemet Mantle+1), it's got a bit more oomph to the WS punch. Some might say that Attack +15 trumps STR+2, but given that I'm Elvaan with a crappy DEX rating and the fact that Cuchulain's Mantle comes with the added bonus of Acc+5, I think it's a better trade-off for me overall.

Have a looksies for yourself:

At any rate, the place you acquire said mantle is in a campaign op known as "Splitting Heirs." This op is only available when San d'Oria controls all 7 of it's battle zones. This week, Sandy happens to do just that. So yesterday afternoon, I got a group of friends together (Kaylea, Celestria, Blaize, Ozulus and Butcher). We were originally going to take Izman, but he had to go look at his newest 11-fingered/14-toed relative, so we got Butcher instead.

With max tags, you essentially have 14 opportunities to do this BC during the week that it's available. It's not THAT many opportunities when you think about it, but it's enough to generally get a solid group what they want from the BC.

As long as you're successful....

...which SE seems to have gone to great lengths to ensure you aren't.

What is being dealt with in this BC are NMs named Darkheir Grradhod (SAM), Malicearm Razbhobb (MNK), Slitherword Razghogg (BLM), Gorepledge Rozzbrezz (PLD). The objective is to kill Darkheir Grradhod. Originally, you could kite Darkheir to the entrance of the zone, kill off his three cohorts, then just worry about Darkheir. The cohorts would respawn at their original spawn point, but apparently SE didn't include the entrance as part of their aggro range, so they'd just end up sitting there being harmless.

A few updates ago, SE "fixed" this. Now the cohorts aggro the second they respawn. On top of that, you generally can sleep them 2-3 times before they start resisting. Combine this with the fact that Darkheir is very tempermental and has the ability to one-shot any of your tanks at any given point during the fight, and you have the makings of a very messy fight.

Darkheir himself uses the standard orc moves indigenous to the WotG zone such as Orcish Coutnerstance and Shoulder Charge as well as the normal orc moves from every other zone (Arm Block, Aeriel Wheel and Slam Dunk). One particularly nasty move he does is Tornado Edge. If this move lands (shadows absorb it), you're inflicted with max HP/MP/TP down effects.

The general idea to win this BC is to try to control the cohorts as effectively as possible while whittling down Darkheir. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but we opted to go with PLD (Oz), PLD (Butcher), RDM (Kaylea), BLM (Celestria), BLM (Blaize), and WHM (me) in our first attempt. Fight was a little chaotic at first as we were trying to establish our positioning. I still fail to understand how I cannot see a Galka to cast on it while it's gut and it's ass are sticking out from both sides of a tree, but this is the terrain we're dealing with. As the fight wore on, MP started becoming an issue and the babies were resisting sleep quite a bit. We got it down to 1% before wiping. Sad thing is, we dumped some DoTs on it before we wiped, but Gorepledge decided to spam Cure IV on his boss and that pretty much negated any other chance we had at winning.

Our second attempt involved a bit of a tweaked strategy. Blaize changed to SAM/WAR in order to deal with the babies more efficiently. The notion was that Atonement spam was more than enough to whittle Darkheir down. Especially after he does his Berserker Dance as this lowers his magic defense by a ton. It was definitely easier controlling adds this time, but they weren't being controlled enough to really stabilize the run. On top of that, it added a bit more strain to the MP pool having to cure Blaize as well. We ultimately lost this run too, but it wasn't nearly as close as the first run.

So more tweaking.

Third attempt. Blaize subbed DNC this time. Result was a closer win, but we still lost.

And at this point, some of us came to the conclusion that having a BLM in there was nice, but a RDM could control the adds with the same efficiency and help keep people alive to boot. We changed our set up to PLD, PLD, RDM, RDM (Celestria), SAM and...


Gungnir time!

(I swear it feels like I'm putting on a super hero suit every time I change to DRG).

For our fourth attempt, I went as DRG/WHM. I felt that if Blaize and I were going to be on baby control, we both needed to be as self-sufficient as possible while Kay and Cel both focused on keeping the tanks alive. On top of that, my healing breath set has the ability to dump a minimum of 409 HP on whoever is at 50% HP or lower. This comes in very handy for MP conservation.

Blaize and I took the approach of TP'ing on Darkheir, then unloading weapon skills on the babies after they had been slept for the 2nd time. Generally speaking, one weapon skill from each of us was enough to kill one baby with the occasional crit from Drakesbane one-shotting them. This helped our tanks out tremendously in their ability to handle Darkheir. We had the babies staggered out enough so that we could get 2-4 whacks in on Darkheir before we had to kill one.

As the NM got around 50%, it managed to land a lucky TP move on Butcher and one-shot him. That's pretty much the story with this BC almost any time it's done. Luck. Ozulus solo tanked Darkheir like a fkn M-A-N while Butcher was weakened. Even got through Darkheir's two hour w/o much damage done to him. Unfortunately, as it got closer to death, it landed a couple more lucky TP moves and left us tankless. He was at 7% when tanks went down. Celestria had hate and very wisely started the kiting process down around the hut. What happens next simply does not happen w/o Cel being as heady a player as she is.

As she was running towards the hut, I was on Darkheir's tail smacking him while my two hour was active. Kay, Oz, Butcher and Blaize are all down or weakened. Right as Darkheir gets to the hut, he stops to use Orcish Counterstance and then...

Qtipus uses Drakesbane.
Darkheir Grradhod takes 1593 points of damage.
Qtipus defeats Darkheir Grradhod.

To paraphrase Jess:


We won!

...with an assist from timing and luck.

I don't have the screenshot, but Butcher's next couple comments were rather funny:

(Butcher) I think I'm just going to HP. I don't feel like losing anymore.
You find a brave grip in the armoury crate.
You find a witch sash in the armoury crate.
You find a sunstone in the armoury crate.
You find a mythril ingot in the armoury crate.
(Butcher) Oh.
(Butcher) We won.

Feeling pretty good that we won, we gave it one more shot with the set up we had knowing full well that luck was on our side for that one. Luck abandoned us for the final attempt of the night though. Again it was lucky one-shot kills on the tanks that derailed us, but it happened much earlier in the fight and unfortunately, no amount of heroism was going to save that run. At least we didn't walk away empty handed for our efforts the entire night.

Overall, SE's "fix" of this BC is retarded. Compared to Plucking/Clipping Wings, this is like fighting AV vs. Jolly Green. There are a lot of strats that people say work consistently...a couple of which I'll try out this weekend, but overall, luck seems to be the overwhelming factor in determing if you're going to win or not. The only thing that needs to happen for this BC to reasonable is for the babies to not build up a resistance to sleep so fast. Darkheir still has the ability to knock people out in one hit. Having those babies resist sleep the way they do pretty much turns winning this BC from improbable to impossible. I don't expect to walk into this BC, wave Gungnir around and instantly win, but I do expect to at least put a reasonable party together and have more than a stone's throw chance of winning.

I know some will say "Manaburning is 100% winning", but all that does is require people to level BLM and I've never been a big believer in "throwing more BLMs at it". Next round of BC's though...I happend to find a strat that might provide a little more consistency. And I get to potentially enjoy one of my most favorite FFXI activities to boot...

KO'ing the Cuban.

Monday, April 13, 2009

4/8/09 Updates and other shenanigans.

For the most part, I have to say that the latest update is a good one. SE expanded Fields of Valor into the rest of the Signet-based zones as well as added new features like Elite Training. I haven't messed around much with the new FoV features, but if it's anything like the original features, it's definitely good for the game.

The main two things I've been doing aside from wasting time with A Crystalline Prophecy are:

1. New past city missions/quests.
2. Exploring Allied Notes Notorious Monsters.

I have to say, the quests for the cities were already good, but SE upped themselves this time by leaving us at cliffhangers for each of the respective cities. At this point we're starting to get tied into the opening movie all of us watched years and years ago when this game made it's debut as well as the other major events that shaped the original rank quest story lines.

In this post, I'll detail Bastok's story. I'll follow up with San d'Oria and Windurst in the coming days.

Most of Bastok's missions up to this point have been of the "Whodunnit?" variety. Up until now, it's been a pretty cut and dry mystery story with a couple minor surprises. The latest quests involve the Mythril Musketeers directly. Having observed that the random killings of four civilians/nobody politicians follow the patterns of the notorious killer Darksteel Hurricane, the Mythril Musketeers are called into action to find him. After a series of questionings (and a very humorous scene with the Goblins), we're led to a waterfall in Vunkerl Inlet where Darksteel Hurricane is believed to be hiding.

Devising a plan to flush him out, the Mythril Musketeers have Darksteel Hurricane trapped on the bridge where they want him. A stand-off ensues and the Mythril Musketeer captain (Klara) decides to put her rusty negotiation skills to work. After working her magic, it gets spoiled by impatient members of her backup and ends with Darksteel Hurricane being dealt a deadly blow by Klara and tumbling over the bridge to the waters below.

Body nowhere in sight, Klara's own team begins to doubt the legitimacy of Darksteel Hurricane being the real deal and thus...doubting their own leader's story along with trying to figure out what type of conversation took place between the notorious killer and their leader. Nicolaus, Five Moons and Volker return to the scene of Darksteel Hurricane's demise only to find his armor strewn about and an Ahriman flying off to a cave in the distance. Following the Ahriman to it's hidey-hole and throwing a flare grenade in to flush them out, the trio (and Qtipus) are surprised by the fact that there are multiple Ahriman in the hole.

The fight that ensues was actually a very well thought out BC. Arch Ahriman has the ability to shape-shift into one of your NPC companions. Nicolaus, Volker or Five Moons. The first time I attempted this was a trio attempt with Geddoe and Oniken. Our set up was PLD/NIN, SCH/RDM and DRG/WHM. Beating it with this set up required some luck, which didn't befall us. We timed out with Arch Ahriman at 1%. Damage dealt to his "clones" does not translate directly to Arch Ahriman itself. So you're basically fighting a bit of a random sequence of enemies. We got a lot of Nicolaus in our first attempt. I died twice to freak happenings (bad luck I mentioned before). Nicolaus apparently can Hexa-strike with the best of them and knocked me out with a dose of 1300+ damage. The other time I died was from lack of stun and eating a Thunder IV from Nicolaus.

Let's just say I'm not a Nicolaus fan at the moment.

After losing, we sat around and strategized a bit more, then came up with a great solution to fix our strategy.

Enter: The Cuban.

BLU does a lot of wonders for this BC and we were in and out within 15 minutes. We got a lot of Volker this time along with a higher dose of Five Moons (hatechu guillotine). Five Moons, Nicolaus and Volker are starting to believe that Klara may not be herself if, in fact, this Ahriman had the ability to shape shift along with perhaps another presence manipulating events to show only certain things to individuals. A wave of Kindred start to rush the Musketeers as they're discussing possibilities. Nicolaus and Five Moons insist Volker and I return to Bastok to ensure the president is safe as the Musketeers had just been re-promoted to the president's personal guard.

Back in Bastok, We find that Klara makes Zeid swear that he will stand by her side unwavering no matter what happens and then proceeds to nearly murder the president. A fight ensues between the president and Klara (albeit a very one-sided fight) and is interrupted by the appearance of Volker and myself. Volker is taken down like a little pansy and Zeid has had enough. He stops the assassination of the president and holds off Klara long enough for Five Moons and Nicolaus to arrive only to find himself holding Klara and Five Moons off each other shortly afterwards. Klara decides it's best to leave and says to everyone on her way out "Next time we meet, it will not be me." seemingly confirming the original suspicions of all the musketeers.

My thoughts on this story are that it's starting to point more and more directly to the Shadow Lord being directly involved in the happenings of Bastok. He's obviously involved in all of the cities, but it seems like Bastok has the most blatant clues about it. I feel like this is leading us up to the point where Zeid and Volker have their infamous show-down with the Shadow Lord that ended the war. As for Klara, she's obviously possessed by something. What manner of creature it is, I'm not sure, but I'm reasonably certain it's not an Ahriman. It's setting up nicely for a Qtipus vs. Klara/Klara's manipulator BC in the coming updates. I get the feeling this fight will be where we see Klara's ultimate demise and the ascension of Volker to captain of the Mythril Musketeers. reward for finishing these missions?

San d'Oria tomorrow!

First post. No pictures, just thoughts.

So I find myself blogging for the first time in my life. I've made a habit of following a few blogs and thought I should create one since I'm generally one opinionated individual, but never really found the time or the energy to do it.

Anyway, here I am.

I'll start off with my opinions on the latest SE mini-expansion.

A Crystalline Prophecy: Ode to Life Bestowing (Spoilers follow).

A few months ago, SE broke the news that instead of a full-on expansion release in retail stores, they would be trying to come into the digital age by releasing new content in smaller mini-expansions. They detailed three of these expansions to be released over the course of 2009. The first of these three was released April 8th, which I promptly bought like any other expansion hoping that if we're getting 1/3 of a previous expansion, then it'd be worth it.

Boy was I wrong.

Not only can you finish this expansion in a very short period of time, the storyline isn't the least bit interesting, the quests are annoying as can be and the fights aren't really all that challenging. The introductory cutscene offers a little promise, but then the annoyances begin. Keep in mind, I'm writing this completely aware the competition for quest items from new content just adds to the annoyance factor, but even if I were out there by myself (as I was for a couple hours in Batallia Downs), it was still annoying.

So to start us off, SE decides that it's fun to send us out to Jugner Forest, Meriphataud Mountains, and Pashow Marshlands to kill their respective beastmen for Seed items. Pashow was my first destination and I went 1/1 on kills. Was that just sheer luck or was that how SE intended it? Next stop was Jugner where I discovered the answer to the previous question was, in fact, "sheer luck". I didn't get my second item the first night of the expansion. The next day after work, I catch Jugner in a bit of a lull (especially after the obligatory 2 hour emergency maint. after an update) and proceed to spent the next hour mauling any orc in sight before the 2nd seed dropped. Fortunately, I had help from Celestria's TH to speed this process up...but it STILL took us an hour of constant killing. Now that I'm to Meriphataud Mountains where the optimist in me figured my time spent there would be in between what I spent in Pashow and Jugner. About 10 kills in, I finally have all 3 of my seeds, so off to trade them to the ???, right?

Yeah, no.

SE removed it from the game temporarily.

Inventory -3 and I had to wait until the next day until they fixed their game.

Next day rolls around (Good Friday...please live up to your name). Still broken, emergency maint. between Noon and 2:00. Servers actually came up a bit early, and I ran out to trade my seeds to the ???. AWESOME! INVENTORY+3! I have to go out to Batallia Downs, Rolanberry Fields, and Sauro-whatever and kill goblins for key items?

Then I have to run through Crawler's Nest, Beaucedine Glacier and Garlaige Citadel (WotG shortcut ftw...FU banishing gates) to get to the ???s that spawn NMs with the key items Young Aldo actually wants.

Let's just say I didn't get around to trading these items to the ??? until later that night. By the time I get to the point of running to the ???s to spawn the goblins that die in one hit for key items, I'm thoroughly annoyed. Finally, Kaylea and I make our way out to the ??? in Qufim yet again after literally HOURS of goblin killing.

New content competition made for a huge clusterfuck of people standing around this ??? trying to spawn the mandragoras for this fight, but it was already late and I didn't have the patience to stand around and wait. At least SE realized this ahead of time and made it so that the fight would respawn about a minute or so after the last one ended. This fight would be the only humorous event throughout my adventures in this expansion.

The fight itself is against waves and waves of Seed Mandragoras. Five at a time in all their squeaky glory. They didn't hit hard, but I didn't expect a TP move of theirs at all. I showed up as DRG/BLM fully intending to just Jump and one-shot my way through all of them, but then they decided to start using moves called "Demonic Flower". This move sacrifices most of their own HP into damage dealt to the target. Three of them used it at once and all of a sudden, I'm at half HP with a subjob I don't normally use and no macros to boot. On top of that, I'm mostly out of MP to -ga them with (humorous moment being a DRG/BLM using Thundaga on mandragoras that did 550+ damage each time...).

Not wanting to die in front of a crowd of people, I quickly changed my Poisona macro to Poison and managed to get healing breath off with about 100 HP left, then proceeded to finish the fight. Felt like a bit of an ass soloing it for that long (took me nearly 15 minutes...), but yeah I grossly underestimated their abilities and almost paid for it.

With that fight over, we moved on to Fei'Yin where apparently SE thought the timer used in the race up to the Cradle of Rebirth was a feature that wasn't used enough. Now we get to race through Fei'yin to find 9 Seed Afterglows before our tri-force-esque hand-embedded seed fades to non-existence.

It's a good thing nothing aggros me down there or I probably would still be running around that damn place looking for those afterglows.

After finding all 9 of these things, I figured Akimarie ("Cuban" from here on out) and I would take a shot at the BC. Mainly cause I was pissed off at the annoying quests SE was having us do. We lost in dramatic fashion.

i.e. We didn't even kill one Seed Beastman.

...and we had to crawl back through Fei'Yin to recharge our tri-force. (GOOD GOING SE! NOTHING LIKE REPEATING QUESTS SUCH AS THESE TO MAKE THE EXPANSION SEEM A LOT BIGGER!!~)

A couple hours later after an old-man nap was interrupted by Kay calling me saying the Cuban had formed a party, I cleared the BC with ease. Izman, Invy, Highlife, Kay, Cuban and myself.

And now with that part done...time for some more CSs (a decent one in Hall of the Gods) and onto perhaps the most annoying facet of this expansion.

Level capped crawl up Delkfutt's tower to find yet MORE seed afterglows. Seriously, if anyone at SE happens to read this blog at any point in the future, let me make one thing absolutely clear:


Have to find 12 of the buggers now. Fortunately, they don't move around like they did in Fei'Yin nor do you have a time limit, but they are parked right in the middle of where goblins, gigas or bats hang out. The easy way around this is to just have someone stay uncapped and maul everything in your path, but then that means you're doing the same for them when it's their turn to get their key items. The kicker to this is, even if that uncapped person is in your party, they can't cast anything on you while you're under the level cap effect. The crawl was time consuming, but it got done. Kay, Cuban and I are now ready for the final fight.

Which we didn't do yet.

Mainly cause all three of us think this expansion sucks.

More to follow when we're not collectively annoyed to the point of wanting nothing to do with this expansion.

I will say that the future mini-expansions will not be purchased by me immediately. I will give it a few days to see if it's worth bothering with. It's not that $10 is hard to come by. It's just the only way to get SE's attention. If they see a drop in mini-expansion sales, they'll likely realize something was wrong and start researching what was going on. One $10 fee isn't going to make a bit of difference to them, but I get the feeling I'm not the only one that will take this approach to the 2nd of the 3 mini-expansions due out this year. A $1,000,000 hit in initial sales revenues would definitely get their attention.

And to paraphrase Ringthree's thoughtful analysis of SE's recent trend of selling gear and features (i.e. Augmented body pieces for completing ACP and Mog Satchels) to it's's not a slippery slope...yet.

Let's see what they tag onto the next two mini-expansions. :)

Qtipus' Information

FFXI subscriber since NA release.