Capped for A Day

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Morning folks… I am struggling today.  Both in the waking up department because there is simply not enough coffee in the world… and in the illness department because I seem to be coming down with whatever the hell is going around the office.  I’ve yet to decide if I can make it to work today, so we will see what happens between now and finishing this post but I am taking a breathing treatment as I type.  As far as the weekend I did a bunch of assorted gaming because that seems to be how I roll right now.  Instead of focusing hard on one thing I seem to be splitting my time between a bunch of things, and as a result I spent a good deal of time making tiny images and updated my “Recently Playing” sidebar.  It mostly follows the post I made last week with the major exception of me apparently forgetting to include Elder Scrolls Online which I still dip my toes into occasionally.

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In the Destiny 2 front I spent a good deal of the weekend knocking out anything that could get me a Powerful/Prime Engram and wouldn’t you know it… I reached 600 light the current cap.  This is a cap that I will enjoy for another whole day…. because when the black armor DLC releases on December 4th the cap is going up to 650.  The truth is I am fine with this.. because the last cap was quite the stretch to get to from the levels I was sitting at when Curse of Osiris released, which is unfortunately the last time I really seriously played the game.  Sure I got in and did the Warmind story content and a little bit of planetary stuff but I really was not pushing myself to cap out at that point.  Additionally Forsaken made it way easier for someone to play casually and reach the cap, so I am looking forward to Black Armory and some of the new open world “Forge” content as I have always dug things like the Blind Well or Archon’s Forge and Court of Oryx from Destiny 1.  I need to get serious about trying to wrangle folks for the purpose of having a raid night… Squirrel keeps volunteering himself but at my count that still leaves us down four people.  So if you are interested in that sort of nonsense on the PC platform drop me a line.

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Since this is the first post of December I thought I would talk a bit about InPiPoMo which just finished.  For years I had not joined in because I largely considered my blog cheating given the nonsense number of screenshots that I post.  I apparently have a problem because the goal was to hit 50 “pictures” during the month of November to parallel NaNoWriMo and its 50,000 word count goal…  since a “Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.  During the month without really attempting to do so I posted 93 screenshots if my quick count was correct, so yeah…  that is a thing I do.  Like this morning I had a screenshot of Diablo 3 on the Switch that I wanted to post but nowhere really to post it so I sort of shimmed it into this paragraph.  Huge thanks to Chestnut for keeping this going this year and you should totally check out her blog Gamer Girl Confessions.

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Over in Monster Hunter World the Winter Star festival is going on and with it a set of gear that you can farm.  For both PC and Console players this also means that almost every event that has ever been active is active once again allowing you to farm anything you might have missed.  That list is considerably smaller for PC players unfortunately, but it does let you get things like the Wyvern Ignition Great Sword and cosmetic nonsense like the Wiggler head.  From what I can tell the only event that is not active is the Code Red event tied to the Devil May Cry cross over potentially because it just ended right before this event.  You can however farm Kulve Taroth again until your heart is content.  There is a set of lackluster armor that you can craft, or you can do what I did and cash in your tickets towards the layered armor set so you can make ANY gear look like Santa Claus.  I plan on farming up enough tickets to also be able to purchase the super adorable Snowman Palico outfit… or Snow Woman in the case of Kenzie who regardless of the game is canonically female.

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I’ve talked about how awesome the screenshots are at the end of fights, because they always capture you doing something interesting.  In this case it is me dodge rolling out of the way of a line of lightning while everyone else is apparently downhill engaged with the monster.  When you hit Hunter Rank 49, in order to make forward momentum you have to face this monster in particular…  Tempered Kirin.  It took me forever to manage to get this on the console and in truth it was probably only because I was getting carried super hard by Shiana that Ashgar and I wound up getting it at the same time.  On the PC I’ve been dipping my toes into these waters for awhile now, and I have reached the point where it is not me that is fainting and causing us to fail…  but regardless still end up failing out most of the time.  Monster Hunter does this thing where the screen freezes and it can mean either you beat the encounter or someone other than you got carted and caused the whole group to fail.  When the screen froze at this point… I just assumed we failed it… but in truth it turns out with one life left to go we managed to take down Tempered Kirin.  I will probably NEVER fight this again…  that is unless someone who has recently started the PC winds up needing help to get through it.  Super happy to be moving again on the other side… which caused me to instantly shoot up to 58.

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I also spent a good chunk of the weekend fiddling around in Final Fantasy XIV… which frustratingly has started doing this thing where it does not exit cleanly and strands a black fullscreen window that seemingly has the power to block task manager.  This is really only a problem for me personally… since I have been streaming every bit of gaming recently from gaming desktop upstairs to my laptop downstairs.  When this happens I have to go upstairs and fiddling with it in order to restore functionality, which can be a bit maddening considering how regularly I am hopping games in a given evening.  Regardless I have reached my first wall gear wise in the Main Story Quest and it requires me to get to 335 I believe which means I either need to buy my way out of that hole or start doing enough content to farm up some gear.  I am probably going with the later given that I never was rich in Final Fantasy XIV terms.  In the meantime however I have decided to revisit my old friend the Palace of the Dead to push my Dark Knight up high enough to be able to do the Heaven on High content the rest of the way to 70.  Probably a significant amount of my time will be spent catching up classes so that they are ready when Shadowbringer releases tentatively next summer.

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All Things  Geekery is a great podcast by my friends Detached and Victus that among other topics tends to be a great source of Destiny 2 related conversations.  They have been doing this thing recently where they highlight a member of the community at the beginning of their show, which I thought was a really great idea when they started this concept with the very amazing Chestnut.  However I am now starting to question their mental state because apparently they saw fit to include me in this construct as well.  This week I apparently am leading off the show, but really you should probably just fast forward past that and listen to their interesting discussion of Red Dead Redemption 2… a game I am super interested in but waiting to see if it releases on the PC given that is my platform of choice and I have a bad habit of rebuying games for it.  You can find the podcast at…

Finally there is of course the podcast we recorded this weekend where we talk about Final Fantasy XIV, Monster Hunter World Winter Star event, what happens when MMORPGs close down, Tetris in Virtual Reality and a few other topics shimmed in between.  I tend to be really bad about promoting the thing that I actually do, so I should get in the habit of talking about it more on this blog so there is some cross pollination.  I am still shocked anyone reads this thing… let alone listens to me ramble on the other thing.  At this point I have decided to stay home and crash this morning because I had very few things on my calendar for today.  If I had a packed day of meetings I might have struggled through it and probably infected the rest of the office.  Now I am going to get in some fuzzy pants and forget the world exists.

 

 

Lurk Longsword

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This morning is a little bit odd given that I am not at work, but also had to get up at 5:30 like normal.  I guess I technically didn’t but I still have things that need to get done.  My mother in law is going into the hospital today for a lung biopsy, so I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, prayers or just general good vibes channeled her direction.  Our hope is of course that it isn’t anything serious, but just the act of taking a biopsy from your lungs is fairly serious.  A few days ago I wrote about how hardcore mobile gamers can be, and I guess further evidence proves that even more true.  Yesterday I booted up Walking Dead Our World while waiting on a meeting just to check and see what objectives I should be focused on… and found that I had been kicked from the group that I wrote about.  It seems as thought a group leader can see various stats about the players, and it appears that it is common place to purge anyone not killing at least 200 walkers a day.

I am WAY more casual than that… and I had apparently somehow avoided notice for a few weeks before the hammer dropped down upon me.  I don’t even really know the people in the clan, but it was surprising how much it generally bummed me out.  I’ve since joined another group, but I have to say…  the drive to play is largely gone.  Previously I felt like I was working towards something with a bunch of other players, but now I mostly just don’t care as I have to get acclimatized to another group of randos.  I’ve contemplated forming my own group and calling it something along the lines as “Casual AF” and just seeing what sort of players I get to join.  The clan size is limited to 25 players, so if you are in a group of high achievers I totally get why they might want to punt casuals.  The objectives are things like kill 300 armored walkers with a specific character, and in a given encounter you might come across two of them…  meaning at that rate you would have to take out 150 of these randomly occurring encounters to get the objective.  The game is balanced for hardcore players, so also maybe not balanced for me personally.  It was interesting while it lasted.

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One of the things I love about the Kulve Taroth event is the random weapons that you end up walking away with.  Generally speaking there are a few gems scattered in amongst the dross… and one of them is this longsword.  The base damage is a little low, but it makes up for it in the utility of having a longsword with fairly reasonable paralysis on it.  Ultimately I have been using this a lot as I have been taking on the Devil May Cry event quest where you fight four different monsters, and this ends up giving a fairly early proc of paralysis to help out the burn phase.  It also works shockingly well on Kulve Taroth itself, which is goofy given how damned big that is to see it paralyzed.  It does allow for a lot of good burn time whenever it happens which makes me heavily favor the weapon, and if I shifted out my item build a bit I could get quite a bit of white sharpness on it.

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I also spent a good deal of time last night playing Final Fantasy XIV and managed to get off high center in the quest chain.  There was a very specific quest that I was struggling with, that involved killing a bunch of mech suits that cast self destruct.  This stupid thing took me roughly four attempts to finally get through it, and is one of those fights where the NPCs are vulnerable to death… and if they die you instant fail.  I finally figured out exactly what I was supposed to be doing and on the last attempt it felt way less arbitrary.  I will say this is one of the frustrations at times with Final Fantasy XIV…  is that for all of the really good visual messaging… there are at times in the solo quests that they don’t give you much of an explanation of what you are supposed to be doing.  My hope however is that this gets me unstuck and I can continue questing my way through all of the Main Story Quest content that I had missed.

Tiny Samurai vs Eureka

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One of the things that happened over the weekend that we did not talk about on the podcast, nor have I mentioned on the blog… was the reveal of the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion Shadowbringers at the Las Vegas Fan Fest.  I mentioned Fan Fest when I was talking about BlizzCon and how they only hold one when they have a big announcement to give us information about.  As such you go into the experiencing knowing you are going to see something really cool, and while the trailer for Shadowbringers is cool… it was not the big reveal of the weekend.  That said I do find it interesting that we are not going where I thought we were going at various points in the Stormblood storyline.  It seems like in order to restore balance… we are to become the Warrior of Darkness.

The more important reveal however was that of the Blue Mage… aka the MMO class that I questioned if was even possible to do in a multiplayer game.  With it they are introducing this concept of “Limited Jobs” and by that they mean Jobs that you can do… but are purely solo/open world only.  Blue Mage will launch with 4.5 and be locked to a maximum of level 50 in progression.  Like a Blue Mage in any other Final Fantasy game, you will not learn new skills by leveling up and instead learn them by fighting the monsters that perform certain abilities.  So to learn Bad Breath you will need to fight a Morbal and watch it do that move…  or similarly you will need to watch a Sabotender do 1000 Needles to be able to pick it up and start doing it yourself.  I really dig this concept because it allows them to do this class with all of its flavor and power… without having to worry about balancing it against any other class.  Level 5 Death would have been super hard to balance around… and I am wondering if they will start bringing other challenging classes in to the game under this Limited Jobs banner.

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All of this thought about Final Fantasy XIV lead me to patch it up, and attempt to figure out where the hell I left off in the Stormblood post expansion main story quest.  I bounced very hard on Stormblood and I am still not entirely certain why, but after leveling the Warrior and then grinding up the Samurai… I just ran out of steam.  I’ve made a few attempts to get engaged again and similarly bounced out.  Hell recently there have been a few times I logged into the game and then right back out when I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed to do in order to gain traction.  All of this time however Sol has kept Greysky Armada active and there is a group of folks that do a cycle of regular events.  Last night was Eureka night and I decided to log in and join the shenanigans.

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Ultimately it was myself, Mor, eventually Neph and a character that I have seen around but can’t really place a person to…  being babysit by Pix who deserves a hero medal for easing us all into the concept of Eureka.  I remember when this first opened I spent some time solo grinding and managed to make it to level 2 just by killing random stuff.  It seemed insanely grindy and a love song to Final Fantasy XI which itself was effectively the Japanese version of Everquest.  Soloing it was miserable but with a group of friends it felt an awful lot better.  Even more so once we started gathering up the materia shards that effectively gave us a 60% damage boost.  I entered the night at level 2 and managed to push through to level 8 before we finally called it because it was getting late.

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Seriously Pix deserves massive thanks at herding us around Eureka and helping us get the objectives we needed to get knocked out.  Effectively he was out of group and AOE taunting everything onto him… while we sat there killing it down as fast as possible.  As a result I spent most of the night as Samurai and while it took me a bit to remember how to play the class it eventually came back.  When Neph joined us I feel like she went through the same thing with Machinist… which I guess is to be expected for as long as we have been gone.  I know they have other themed nights, like one in which they do crafting maps…  so for the time being I am probably going to be logging in and doing those activities at least until I get my bearings.  I had an awful lot of fun, and I most of it was due to the fact that I was getting to hang out with a bunch of friends that I had not hung out with in a really long time.

Bunny Fail Tank Returns

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I’ve talked about this a bit in the past, but I have struggled with Final Fantasy XIV since finishing the Stormblood main story.  I am not exactly sure why, but after leveling my Warrior through the questing process…  and then grinding up a Samurai I bounced.  When I say I bounced… I bounced hard.  I just stopped logging in entirely and even didn’t care enough to log in for most of the major holiday events that have gone on.  At one point I made an attempt to get back into the game and pushed through the new MSQ content right up until I reached the Drowned City of Skalla.  I could not bring myself to tank that with a random group and I told myself… I would wait until I had friends around to run it with me.  That event never happened and I got distracted by a bunch of games in the meantime.

The problem with this is that it sort of set up an artificial barrier between me and the content.  It was as though I had some sort of a mental block preventing me at just throwing myself at content the way I used to be willing to.  I knew I needed something severe to get me off high center and back into caring about what was going on in Final Fantasy XIV.  There used to be a time when I willing to log in each night and run experts with completely random groups of players from the roulette system.  However I developed some sort of barrier against doing that… one that I think was slowly chipped away given how freely I am willing to do my “SOS Roulette” nonsense in Monster Hunter World.

Watch Sleep Deprived Bel tries to remember how to Fail Tank in FFXIV from Belghast on www.twitch.tv
As a result last night I used the presence of an audience as a bit of a kick in the butt to get me back into Final Fantasy XIV and doing dungeon content again.  I streamed for a little over two hours and in that time I believe I ran four dungeons and made some progress in the MSQ afterwards.  In truth were it not for the MSQ slowing the pace down significantly…  I might have streamed longer throwing myself at more dungeons for gear currency.  I managed to pick up a chestpiece with tokens and now feel like maybe I can do this thing and catch my gear levels up to something reasonable.  At the start of the night I was 313 item level and by the end I edged it up a bit to 315.  Skalla and the next set of patch dungeons all drop gear that is an incremental upgrade, as well as some tasty tasty currency.  Basically at this point I need to reach a state where I can start doing expert roulette again to play catch up.

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After taking a break from streaming and FFXIV I hopped over to Monster Hunter World for awhile and spent some time running nonsense with Grace.  I have been mostly running hammer when we are doing stuff, because it is a weapon that I like quite a bit… and one that I want to get better at using.  There are definitely times when I am fighting something that it feels like having something more than a longsword in my arsenal would help greatly.  We took down a Squirrel Blimp and I managed to unlock the third of my elder dragons while she ran around trying to find the Great Girros.  I was not in terribly long as I was already in a fairly sleep deprived state from the previous nights fragmented sleep schedule due to the launch.  All in all though it was a pretty great night and I want to thank everyone that stopped by to tune in and chat with me.  Also huge thanks to Solaria who actually joined my discord and hung out with me while I eased my way back into Final Fantasy XIV.  It’s fun lobbing comments at text messages scrolling across twitch chat, but it is even more fun when you have someone hanging out in chat to talk to over voice as well.

Shirogane Extreme

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For most of my journey through Final Fantasy XIV, my home has been The Mists Plot 13 where we managed to snag a small house and turn it into our Free Company house years ago.  The sad thing at this point I can no longer seem to remember what ward we were originally located in.  Once we placed that Aetherite shard in our lawn…  I stopped needing to care about which one I was intending to visit.  Over the years we contemplated trying to move houses to something larger, but we were so ideally situated in the ward that nothing ever felt right.  We were across the road from a market board and retainer bell, and just a few short paces away from the vendors located centrally on the zone.  Similarly we were only a row of houses away from the beach making it feel like everything was close at hand.  One of the key problems with housing in Final Fantasy XIV is that it is extremely expensive…  and secondly it is completely unavailable most of the time given that it is physical housing rather than instanced.  Each Ward having a limited number of potential spaces divided up among small, medium and large plots, and unfortunately Square Enix has been extremely slot to add additional resources.

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With the launch of Stormblood came a golden opportunity because they announced that they would be adding a brand new housing area in the city of Shirogane.  It was about this time that we started talk of actually finally moving to a new area, especially after seeing that this new zone had beach front lots.  There was still the logistical problem of having to sell one house and then immediately turn around and try and buy a new one… all the while hoping you didn’t get sniped and end up without a Free Company house in any form.  However at some point along the way they announced that they would be adding in a relocation system that allows you to move houses and everything in them.  There has been a standing joke online over the last few days of the opening of the Shirogane housing area being the ultimate extreme battle… and reading reddit it definitely seems the case.  Functionally how we got the house was having Tam and Ash both online at 3 am PST when the housing area opened… both with enough money to buy a house in the hopes that one of them would be able to get in and purchase something.  Tam absolutely nailed it and got us Ward 7 plot 49, which is a great medium house right off the beach and beside the entrance to the zone.  The nearest Market board is up the hill from our house making it still a short distance away, though I have to admit they have done an amazing job of trying to make sure ALL of them are a very short distance away.

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This is a different shot of our new home, and the one that Tam posted when he made his “we got one” post.  It is a freaking nice location and the only problem we have right now is dealing with trying to decorate it given that we moved up from a small…  and this thing seems massive with three floors.  There is currently some sort of a bug hitting a bunch of us with our private rooms, but I put in a ticket and am hoping they can do something to fix that.  The Free Company house has been this hub of activity for our members over the years, and while it is going to feel weird to be in a new location… I am sure given a short amount of time it will feel just as much at home as the last one did.  I’ve not really had time to meet our neighbors but I am hoping they are as cool as our last batch was.  It seems however like we were the lucky ones, given that everyone is clamoring for more available properties.  I think if you were not awake at 3 in the morning when the plots went on sale… you didn’t get a home simple as that and it reminds me of the land runs that happened in Horizons each time a new housing area opened up.  This is the problem with physical player housing, and one of the reasons why I tend to prefer implementations like Everquest 2 or Wildstar that have unlimited instanced housing.  I will say the feeling of a physical neighborhood with other players that you get to know over the years as you hang out at the market board is pretty great.  It just sucks that so many players have to go without housing because of this.

 

Warbears and Stormsplitter

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We will lead off with the accomplishment of the night.  I knew I was pretty close to the ARR Warrior “Raid” mount but I had lost sight of actually going after it specifically.  I never really did anything to purposefully grind for this, and for the most part got my 200 “high-level duties” organically by running various raids with the free company. It was at some point during our Omega runs that I happened to notice I got the achievement, and that prompted a trip to the guy near the waterfall in Gridania… who also apparently had the Maelstrom themed mammet waiting for me as well.  The way I ride this mount is sort of insane, with me reaching down and trying to hold onto the fur and it runs around insanely.  It is funny how animation cycles affect how we feel about the speed of a mount, because while this is technically the same speed as everything else I own…  the feels so much faster because of the dynamic run loop.  Grizzled warbear is probably the most Bel mount in existence…  and it is only slightly sad that it doesn’t fly.  There is however a newer bear that supposedly does have the ability to fly… and at the moment I am 49 of some silly number of 70+ content needed for that achievement.  I doubt I will purposefully grind for it, but instead someday also be surprised when I see its achievement scrolling by after tanking a dungeon for someone.

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Once upon a time in a small town far far away…  I was a little skater punk kid.  Technically I only grew up an hour away but we are going to call it far away for sake of the narrative.  I was lucky enough that I had a half pipe in my yard, that we bought second hand and moved to our location and reassembled.  Now this was too small to have a roll in, so it was functionally a “drop in” style ramp.  For those unindoctrinated… most ramps have a bit of metal coping at the top of the lip that is there to protect the wood of the ramp from the “trucks” aka axles of the skateboard as you come up to the top and grind.  Getting onto the ramp involved danging your board out over the edge of the ramp, with your back trucks butted up against the metal coping and then shifting your weight from the tail of the board to the front causing you to “drop in” to the ramp.  I found this process completely terrifying, and each time I went out to skate the first few runs involved me not being willing to give myself over to gravity… and ultimately sliding down the ramp on my ass.  Eventually I would loosen up and get comfortable and be able to drop in just fine for awhile and be able to ride the ramp legitimately for the rest of the day.

The reason why I have related this analogy is that for the most part… doing new organized content in an MMO is like dropping in for me.  I am super hesitant for awhile and unwilling to venture off on my own and give it a shot.  I didn’t do a whole lot of solo grinding of Alexander because I felt like I needed that safety net there in case something went wrong.  Similarly this expansion I have thusfar been unwilling to join a party finder group to do Susano Extreme or Lakshmi Extreme, and last night…  was the moment I dropped in for the first time.  My friends Mor and Grace decided that we were going to do the encounters, and we recruited Muspel as well…  and the four of us…  two tanks and two heals set forth to build a party finder group.  Susano was for the most part a learning experience, but very quickly it became a situation of having to work the kinks out and get our dps up high enough to be able to beat the enrage.  With about 20 minutes to spare we manage to do it and I got my first kill under my belt.  Lakshmi did not go so well, and not only was it much harder to pull together the group…  but it also was pretty clear early on that we had nowhere near enough dps to be able to finish the job.  After some wipes… having someone drop… refilling the group and re-queuing…  only to wipe again due to not enough damage…  we opted to call it for the evening.  That said I now feel significantly more comfortable in either fight as a tank, and in theory I would probably be willing to solo queue from now on.  I got over the coping…  and got my weight shifted in the right way and now am more or less fine.  However it is only because I went into the content with some people that I trusted… that I was eased over the edge, so I appreciate it when someone is willing to just hang out with me and answer my questions while I do new harder content.

Leveling DPS is Butts

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One of the best parts about Final Fantasy XIV is that you can literally be every possible class be it crafting or battlecraft on the same character.  One of the worst parts of Final Fantasy XIV is that for the most part leveling alt jobs has been a pretty grindy proposal.  When you first set down to level in Final Fantasy XIV, you have all of these side quests and main story quests to keep the game feeling fresh and keep the content moving forward at a decent clip.  Unfortunately when you sit down to level any of your other Jobs you find out just how much of your original quest experience came from that unrepeatable main story.  As always I leveled my Warrior first because well…  like it or not I am a tank at heart and for three expansions now I have not deviated from that mission.  There was some brief flirtation with potentially going Dark Knight, but in the end Warrior just suits me best.  However now I have reached that point where I have functionally geared the warrior as far as I can without the aid of Omega drops, and as a result I have turned my attention to trying to run my first DPS up.  You can tell by the above image that my DPS of choice this go round is the brand new Samurai job.  The only problem there is…  quite honestly leveling as a DPS without the aid of the Main Story Quest…  is butts and highlights some of the problems that Final Fantasy XIV still has when it comes to a lack of reasonable alternate leveling paths.

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Previously in A Realm Reborn era especially… I used to hop in a FATE grinding party and move on with life.  There were fabled zones like South Shroud or Northern Thanalan that were largely devoted to groups of players running around and trying to kill the FATEs as fast as possible.  Unfortunately with the transition to Heavensward, there was a massive nerf of FATE experience and with it the grind party devotees started to disappear.  When Palace of the Dead was introduced it gave us a ladder to follow to slowly bring those alts up to speed through grinding sets of 10 floors at a time.  Unfortunately however the PotD experience is pretty horrible with the bar barely moving at level 61.  There is a bit of a FATE presence in The Fringes, but everyone is fairly disorganized with no groups available through the party finder.  There was some talk over the weekend of maybe starting up a guild FATE party just to get all our various alts leveled in a reasonable manner.  My current MO has been to queue for a dungeon or roulette and grind FATEs until it pops and in the grand scheme of things this has worked well enough.  Over the weekend I went from 60 on my Samurai to 65 as of last night, which a huge chunk of that happening during recording the podcast and simply bouncing from FATE to FATE until we finished.  I remember that is also how I leveled my gathering professions, since while I am podcasting I can seem to grind something without even noticing it.  I would also try this with Palace of the Dead, but before long I would find myself running circles in Quarymill while we recorded…  much the same as I used to run circles in Dalaran.

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I honestly thought I was being clever in this expansion, and after the end of Raubahn Savage…  I found myself up enough in experience that I started attempting to ignore every side quest and only push through with a laser focus on the main story.  My thought was this would ultimately help out the first alt that I leveled, and over the weekend I returned to Ruby Sea where I had dozens and dozens of quests to complete.  Unfortunately…  these quests provide next to no experience and simply only add bits of story to help flesh out the world a bit.  I spent about an hour and completed a dozen or so quests… when I realized that my experience bar had moved less than if I had gotten gold in a single FATE.  Hell to be truthful just wandering the world grinding random mobs seemed to be better experience than the side quests were providing.  In the past this would be the moment that I would start leaning heavily on Battlecraft Leves…  but unfortunately much to my frustration it seems that they simply do not exist in Stormblood.  There are crafting leves in Kugane but neither there nor Rhalgar’s Reach have anything for the battlecraft jobs.  I mean leves were a horrible experience in Heavensward and the thought of having to keep popping back to the Foundation between rounds was maddening.  However they were there if you got desperate and there were many times I got desperate enough to see some steady progress on the experience bar.  There are hunts of course, and I have been doing my daily hunt logs but again… while they are an excellent source of seals…   they are a pretty crappy source of experience.

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If I am playing a tank or a healer… then this whole question of how to level becomes moot.  You simply queue for dungeons and ride the constant string of instant queues until you hit 70.  However there seems to be something missing to help the DPS get a leg up.  Now the leveling roulette and 50/60 roulette seem to go significantly faster than queuing for a specific dungeon.  Over the weekend leveling roulette seemed to be about a 10-15 minute queue for dps, and 50/60 somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 minutes…  with queuing for an individual level and gear appropriate dungeon taking somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-40 minutes.  If I was able to run FATEs while waiting on the queue to tick down it did not feel too horrible, or at least it felt like I was making steady forward momentum.  However if I happened in one of the patches where the folks were not touching the FATEs at all…  it was noticeably dragging.  Compare that to the experience of playing a healer or a tank… with their push button get dungeon mechanics and it just feels lousy.  At least with Palace of the Dead providing reasonable experience, you could skirt a lot of the issues and get by just fine with four dps parties in there.  I am not sure where it is on the roadmap, but I am really hoping we see the next iteration of Palace of the Dead launching with 4.1.  Until then… I think once I finish leveling the Samurai I will probably focus on my other tanks and my healers before returning to the DPS queue hell again.  This is also why I have been trying to offer my short tank queues whenever possible to the free company…  because leveling DPS is butts.

Unstuck

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It is always bizarre when I make a post on a Monday… and almost everything that I was talking about on Friday has changed.  This is one of those situations.  When I wrote Friday we had a cute dog in our back yard…  but it was still a dog.  We had not slept very well for several nights in a row… because doggo wanted to be barking lots.  There were several times that my wife got up and snoozed out on the back patio in an attempt to keep the dog from waking the neighbors.  While I didn’t get the brunt of it… because the dog latched onto her and not me…  I did get a significant interruption in my sleep patterns because when someone else in the house is moving about I wake up, or at least go into super shallow sleep mode.  Functionally we were following two lines of thoughts… the best possible solution was to find the original owner and in attempting to do this…  we cast a pretty wide net of posting about the dog any place we could think to do so.  The second line of thought was to try and find a “dog person” to take him, and find him a good permanent home.  Saturday afternoon I got a few excited messages from my wife who was out chilling with the dog on the back patio.  It turns out that one of her facebook posts reached the human responsible for doggo, and within thirty minutes or so my wife was walking the pupper back home.  Rocko as the human calls him…  lives about dozen and a half houses away and had probably just escaped when he decided to start following my wife.  We had a bunch of assumptions..  that he was in fact loved, and that he had a female human that looked after him…  and that he had not actually traveled very far based on the way the pads of his feet looked.  All of that turned out to be completely true and while the puppy seemed to be happy enough with us…  once he got in range of his sibling he seemed to get super amped.  Thankfully we were able to connect the dots and find his original home.

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As far as the other thing that was distressing me… that had cleared up as well.  When I last wrote about it, I talked about my struggles to find a group capable of getting through the Royal Menagerie trial.  Also at that time there were several of us hung up on that step and functionally high center in the expansion.  The Trial itself lasts for 60 minutes and after the five full attempts worth to get through it….  I had spent roughly 300 minutes of my life doing the fight over the course of the week.  Friday night however Ashgar my usual co-tank reached the point where he was also needing the Trial, and we gathered up two heals, two tanks and a dps to take into the encounter.  Up until this point we had all been talking about our battle scars that had been invoked by the fight…  and then because apparently Ash is super lucky we managed to one shot the fight.  The best part about this is the fact that three of us were stalled in the MSQ and got dislodged by that one victory.  Saturday evening Kodra also reached that point, and similarly we rallied the troops…  this time bringing six players in…  and once again we one shot the encounter.  So maybe I just had a streak of bad luck, but it was maddening nonetheless.  However since pushing past on Friday I have been on a gearing spree and am sitting at 302 I believe now on my Warrior.  When not doing roulettes though I have been working on the Samurai and have that job up to 58 so far.  I need to do some research on the Extreme Primals because yesterday Grace tried to convince me and Tam to do this thing.  I originally thought I would wait until the rest of the group got there as well…  but I don’t mind the through of joining a party finder group…  but I just need to be able to know what the hell is going on beforehand.  Unfortunately there is no MTQ guide for either yet, and I am going to have to rely on one of the other guides to get the basics of the fight.

Frustration

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I am rapidly entering the territory of being unable to talk about things that I want to talk about…  without getting deep into spoiler territory.  Before I get into that sort of thing… I thought I would leave you with this picture of me…  in an 80s music video…  or a Olan Mills photo backdrop whichever way you want to spin it.  Yes I did in fact stop in the middle of a pull to take this screenshot…  no I don’t feel at all guilty about it.  Last night featured some amazing highs… and some crushing lows.  At the start of the evening I rather effortlessly pulled together a group of friends to run the sixth and final leveling dungeon, and it was amazing.  It felt so much like they learned their lessons from the two 8 player dungeons that happened at the end of A Realm Reborn and managed to cram that same sort of epic feel into a 4 player dungeon.  It is weird how people never seem to have a problem waiting for cut scenes in a normal dungeon, but god forbid you watch them in any of the 8 player or 24 player content.  Whatever the case it was awesome, and featured a lot of really cool mechanics and several extremely challenging but still reasonable encounters.  I theorized this as them wanting to make sure a group of random players could complete it since this will of course be part of the expert roulette.  Then after these warm fuzzies…  they dropped the bottom out and pushed me right into the third trial after a lengthy cut scene doing the story set up for it.

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Now we are entering the realm of spoilers, because I am not sure how else to talk about my frustrations.  There is a common thread among my Free Company… and that is folks who have technically finished the expansion but not yet seen the credit roll.  For those uninitiated, there is in fact a credits roll at the end of each expansion…  and then again at the end of an expansion cycle of patches.  The reason why we have not seen the credit roll is because so far very few have lucked out to actually defeat the final primal fight.  This is a pug killer, and last night saw me making my first attempts.  On the first attempt we walked in with me playing a tank, Tam playing a Red Mage, Grace playing a Scholar and Solaria playing a White Mage…  and while we got close several times we just could not push it across the finish line.  This is one of those fights where you judiciously hold a healer limit break in reserve…. because at some point you are straight up going to need to rez most of the party.  What makes this fight so much worse than “mechanics the fight” aka Thoradin is that everything literally hits so much harder.  I feel like this is simply an issue of scaling and expecting everyone in the party to have potentially farmed Dungeon 6, rather than to attempt it immediately upon completion.  The amount of damage that the party was taking and the tankbusters when they hit me…  just added up to a frightening amount of healing that needed to be done in perfect situations.  When players were taking damage when they didn’t need to…  it just became more than anyone could handle.

The fight as a whole combines some of my least favorite mechanics from other fights, namely the destructible floor concept that we encountered in Sohr Khai.  The other part of the fight that I really do not like is that there seems to be a significant RNG element to it.  The boss has an aether meter and when it reaches full it does an attack…  but which attack it does seems to be randomed from a large pool of possible attacks.  The problem with this is that some of these are far easier to deal with than others… and this also completely flies in the face of FFXIV encounter design as we have known it to date.  FFXIV encounters are traditionally a dance that is done that the players have to learn the steps to… but once they do it feels like an elegant chorus rather than a win on some chance table.  There are some elements in this encounter that do happen in sequence but then there are others that seem to be pulled out of a hat  that you just have to deal with.  It feels like in order to get through the fight with a PUG we need firstly solid players… but also a hell of a lot of luck.  As a result there is a group of us that might be high center until we can field most of an 8 player group made up of entirely our free company folks.  That might be awhile since everyone tends to be leveling at vastly different speeds… and we have an excessive number of tanks and healers as opposed to some dps.  After last night though…. I think I am going to take the night off and play some Diablo 3 since the Necromancer pack releases today.

 

Crazy Axe

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As of last night I am now officially at the Stormblood level cap.  That said I still have a bunch of content left to run because I know my MSQ is stalled behind at dungeon at the moment…. and then I also know from hearing folks talk about it that there is another trial of some sort after that.  I was feeling a little too out of it to go seeking a dungeon group, so instead I focused on finishing the warrior quest line, which gave me a set of gear that I will probably never wear at least cosmetically… and this bizarre axe.  As a whole though Stormblood provided me with lots of glamour fodder, including this chest piece that I have become rather fond of.  I actually dinged 70 while running the second primal.  I decided to do a trials roulette, and next thing I know I am zoning into that fight.  The first pull went about as well as you would expect that a modern era primal fight would go.  On the second pull however I took a moment to ask folks if there was anything about the fight that they didn’t understand, and answered a bunch of questions.  As I was able to do I also hollered out when a few key mechanics were coming up to remind folks about them.  Things went off the rails a bit during that second attempt but we managed to hold on and ultimately finished the fight.

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The story as a whole has continued to be amazing, but I am finding myself at a loss for screenshots to put in my blog posts that are not insanely spoilery.  I find myself trying to snap moments where nothing much is going on that won’t give away any major story beats.  I find it interesting how generally speaking I am not that beholden to a story in other games…  but in Final Fantasy XIV I am anxious to find out what is going on.  I guess part of it is that in a single player story… the experience doesn’t feel real.  What I mean by that is it is something that I experience and then once the story has reached its conclusion it is functionally over…  at least for another several years until they release a sequel.  In an MMO…  story sets the stage for what is to come and gives us a glimpse in what we will be doing a few months down the road.  The story feels more alive to me because I am going to be living it, and I am going to be adjusting to whatever changes it happens to bring to the stage for a long while.  My friends and I are going to be fighting our way through the epic battles that are proposed each time the story leads us some place new.  I guess this is why I get into the lore of Destiny as well, because even though the grimoire cards are a crummy system… they give us a glimpse at the future to come and let me start day dreaming about epic adventures that are just over the horizon.

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Another thing that happened this weekend was the “launch” of Secret World Legends.  Sure they are calling it a head start, but if you are letting in everyone who played the previous game…  you are effectively launching it.  More than anything I wanted to get in and make sure that all of my stuff transferred just fine, and more importantly that my lifetime subscription did in fact transfer over into lifetime patron status.  For those who played the first game… I highly suggest you check out the page on the transfer system so you can claim anything that might be eligible for transfer.  I’ve heard that this system is only going to be available through August 31st and there are a bunch of guidelines and fine print to follow to make sure everything copies just fine.  I probably need to do some more fiddling to make sure that everything does in fact copy.  I had a character of each faction so in theory it should have…  but I probably need to go ahead and create those other faction characters so I can double check.  The most important item was of course the Csicon alien smiley t-shirt…  which I am rocking in the image above.  So far I am digging the game changes, but unfortunately it just happened to launch at a really horrible time for me since I am so heavily engaged in Stormblood.  I will continue to piddle around and experience the content, and it serves as an awesome “taking a break” game for me right now.  We talk a bit about but Secret World Legends and Stormblood on this weekends podcast, which I am embedding below.