Chain Run Dungeons

Worst Party Comp Ever

FFV_HorriblePartyTime Last night I was feeling more than a little out of it, or at least too out of it to actual do much of anything meaningful in Final Fantasy XIV.  So after finishing my hunt quest and randoming my way into an Aery dungeon group…  I opted to just log out for the night.  For a period of time I considered simply going to sleep… and this is honestly the option I should have taken.  The Four Job Fiesta is like a religion to my good friend Ashgar, and until the night before last I had not actually even registered for it officially.  So as I sat there swaddled in a comfy blanket on the very comfy sofa… I opted to dig the xbox controller out of the console beside me and officially start my fiesta.  The rest is history as I was up fairly late getting my start in the world.  In past Fiestas my party comp has not been terribly horrible… or at the very least I have bought my way to freedom using the Jobfair donation system.  This time however being I think my fourth year participating…  I am just going to let it ride.

So when the game assigned me monk for my Wind job…  I didn’t think much about it.  I figured that would be an easy beginning to the game.  When it gave me Berserker for my water job however…  I started to dread this decision I had made.  Then when I was assigned Beastmaster as my fire job… I realized this was going to be a really odd ride.  I figure the answer to my freedom will once again be out level the content, and I have already gotten a start on that notion as I just defeated the Library of Ancients at level 21 which is about five levels or so off the normal pace I believe.  Next time I play I will be going after my earth job.. and wondering if it will be salvation or another nail in the coffin on this horrible party.  Admittedly I have never actually used the Beastmaster but I always hated how fiddly Gau was in Final Fantasy VI and never actually used him as a result.  In theory this is going to be a return to that sort of thing, but I need to do some serious research on what all I need to do and when I need to do it, especially as I am just about to get an airship for the first time giving me a wider range of freedom to go off collecting abilities.

Chain Run Dungeons

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-23 21-11-03-54 In part the reason why I opted to log out last night instead of play is that I am sitting on a strange wall.  Right now I am about half way to level 57 and I have a bunch of options on how to get there.  I could go do all of the quests that I missed doing while skipping my way around the world and ignoring most of the side quests.  I am sure that Square has intended me to level using these, and the fact that I am largely ignoring them is completely breaking their content design.  I could always go join a FATE train somewhere, as this has always been a viable method of leveling especially now that so many people are doing it and there are almost always FATE groups in the party finder.  It seems that Northern Thanalan is once again an active hotbed of FATE running, and in theory this would even be good experience for a Heavensward character.  I am doing my daily hunts but they are honestly more for the currency provided and while they each provide a decent chunk of experience… there are far better and quicker ways to get it.

All of these are completely viable options, but I would far rather just run a bunch of dungeons.  The problem is that my preference will always be to run dungeons with the Greysky Armada folks.  Unfortunately they are either quiet about what they need for dungeons, or have not unlocked a given dungeon yet.  I’ve run a few groups a night for the last several nights, but if I am going to rely on dungeons as a means of leveling I am going to have to step out into the larger community and just start random queuing.  Now we get into the dilemma last night…  I could have tanked a run for the guild, but I did not have the presence of mind to do so with strangers.  Don’t get me wrong I love the FFXIV community, but dealing with anyone that I don’t already know inflicts a mental toll on me.  My default and original state is that of an introvert… and over the years I have forced myself to be more extroverted…  but doing so…  drains me.  Last night I was an energizer bunny that had wound down, but tonight hopefully I will begin chaining dungeons once more in order to get the last of my level so I can move forward in the story again and hopefully unlock dungeon four.

Unusually Trying Week

Not really sure why but this week has been a really rough one for some reason.  In part I think it is because at the start of the week I had to deal with the being alone, as my wife was once again travelling.  Thankfully only for a few days and as of Wednesday she should be home for the rest of the summer.  It just seems like everything has been stressing me out far more than it should.  I labored over the decision to go ahead and cancel the World of Warcraft account, just to keep it from auto renewing.  I have stressed over a dozen different small issues at work, and I have been stressed that I no longer have the ability to do everything in Final Fantasy XIV.  Right now I am a tank… and if the group already has one of those it means I have to sit out and watch from the bench as the group goes off and has fun.  I liked that I could work my way into any group and fill whatever slot they happened to need, because in truth…  running things with my guild is always the thing that I love to do the most.

The problem is that I will get there once again, but there is an almost insurmountable amount of leveling standing in the way.  I have this odd relationship with grinding… I enjoy it, but only when I don’t realize it is there.  If I am grinding towards a goal of some sort…  then I realize how much work is going to be needed to get to where I want to go… and simply start to shut down.  When I am just grinding as part of my default state of running around and attacking everything in sight… it becomes a happy and carefree place instead.  The problem being that right now I know the end goal… and for whatever reason I am having trouble compartmentalizing and ignoring the finish line.  I think I am just wired strangely… because so long as I don’t know where the finish line is I will keep pushing ahead blindly until I finally accomplish whatever it was that I wanted to accomplish.  However once I know where the boundaries are, and what it is going to take to get there…  the game changes and in a strange way goal setting de-motivates me.  So long as I am on this fun romp of discovery, life is grand…  but right now I need to somehow figure out how to ignore the goals and go back to playing everything for sheer enjoyment.

Content Walls

A Different Dark Knight

ShippingPC-BmGame 2015-06-24 17-38-36-07 So here is the point where I admit that I have never actually played any of the recent crop of Batman games.  I own I believe all of them other than the latest one that just came out, because I keep thinking that they are games that I would really enjoy, but for whatever reason like so many games in my Steam backlog I never end up playing them.  With all of the hype surrounding Batman Arkham Knight lately I have had this massive desire to delve into these games and see exactly what they are made of.  Last night was an odd night in that I got home relatively early, but knew I would have to leave and go pick my wife up as she was getting in from our last trip of the summer.  I knew I had an hour or so to kill so I opted to delve into this game and see how far I could get.  So far there is a lot to like but some things that are a little bit maddening at times as well.  Combat seems to take place in a three dimensional “final fight” style manner.  NPC bad guys approach you in waves and you can beat on them to turn them away from your position.

ShippingPC-BmGame 2015-06-24 18-02-56-67 The problem I have however is that the game employs a “bullet time” mechanic that I seem to have no real control over.  Sure it looks cool to zoom in as your fist cracks against the jaw of a bad guy, but it is jarring in the same way that slow motion kills in Fallout 3 were.  It pulls you out of the action and forces the entire world to slow down for a moment before unfreezing and expecting you to pick up combat where you left off.  Hopefully this is something I will just get used to, as I didn’t make it terribly far into the game last night.  I have to say the storyline and the plot are compelling enough to make me want to keep playing.  I’ve always been a fan of Batman, and the dynamic between him and joker have been the stuff that has driven me to read more Batman comics than I can recall.  Harley Quinn is another of my favorite characters in the universe, and she seems sufficient so far… but really I have not gotten to interact with her terribly much.  Yes I realize at this point that this game is pretty “ancient” but I am going to enjoy it nonetheless.

Content Walls

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-23 21-13-11-19 I am still very much loving Heavensward but I wanted to take a moment to talk about my biggest frustration with the game so far.  This game has some phenomenal story that makes you want to push forward so that you can see what happens next.  The problem is quite frequently you hit a wall where you must be the next level in order to continue the quest chain.  The red quest icon taunts you until you have managed to push through that next level…  only to grant you access to a few more steps of story before locking you out again.  I realize as I leveled my way through the original story in A Realm Reborn I experienced this…  but it has been almost two years so I guess my memories had faded.  Partially I think this is the fault of the way that I am currently playing the game, where I mostly focus on the Main Story, hoping to leave a lot of the side questing for secondary classes to get some experience off of.  Unfortunately I think the designers intended you to do all of the new quests that open up in each area to help you push forward into the next content goal.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-21 17-02-44-44 Thankfully I have dungeons to augment my leveling process, and since everyone seems to be comfortable asking me to tank for them… I am getting quite a lot of access to running these dungeons with my free company.  The only problem being that I never know exactly how I want to level when I am left to my own devices… and have run out of story.  I absolutely love FATEs but the problem being that they simply do not seem to be worth the effort.  We have a running theory that they have watered down the FATE experience in an effort to force players to complete their main story content, rather than simply FATE grind their way through the levels.  The whole FATE grinding to the end thing happened a lot in A Realm Reborn, and I could see them wanting to maybe nip that in the bud at least for the early players.  The problem being that side quests, really don’t reward that much experience either.  I’ve recently unlocked the second their of Clan Hunts, so I will have to see if they reward significantly more experience than the first tier that unlocks at 53.  As it stands right now… I am hoping the first major patch gives FATEs a significant tweak as far as XP goes so I can return to doing those for my alts.

In That Old Place

Wow-64 2015-06-11 21-14-01-64 This coming Tuesday in theory marks the end of our World of Warcraft raids break, and as I find myself moving closer to that date I realize…  I am just not ready to resume raiding.  In fact I am not really ready to play World of Warcraft right now on any level.  So for the time being I will not be rejoining them in raiding, and more than likely won’t be playing at all for some time.  I feel like my primary issue right now is there really isn’t anything other than the raiding tying me to the game.  Sure I had some fun faffing about trying to farm mounts or doing old raid content for cosmetic gear…  but that ultimately has a limit to just how long I can do that without something else keeping me rooted in the game experience.  I’ve explored the new areas, and pushed three characters to the level cap in Warlords of Draenor.  While the content was extremely fun to level through that first, second and even to some extent third time… the whole experience feels extremely disposable because it is also exactly the same each time you do it.

WoWCancelledAgain2015 In many ways this expansion reminds me of the way I felt after leveling my third character in Star Wars the Old Republic.  While the individual class quests there were excellent, it was all the other content that I kept having to repeat that ultimately wrecked my enjoyment of the experience.  I thought walking into Draenor I would be awash with nostalgia about how much I enjoyed The Burning Crusade…  and to some extent that worked for a month or so.  The problem is it is like going back to your High school twenty years after you graduated…  while some of the aspects are similar it is still very much a brand new place that does not synchronize with your memories of it.  The reboot timeline just feels wrong, and with this patch and the reintroduction of Hellfire Citadel, I just find myself not caring anymore.  Arthas and Illidan were bad guys I could really get behind taking down… a constant parade of grim dark future orcs…  not so much.  I made the mistake yesterday of checking my account to see when it would renew, and when I saw September I went ahead and cancelled it.  I figure if the game has not grabbed my attention and made me want to play again in that time… it will just quietly close the door on another chapter of my own personal Warcraft timeline.

The Aery

Login Boss Slain

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-23 20-36-42-03 I will admit that last night I was fully expecting to spend my night playing a lot of ArcheAge.  All signs pointed to World of Warcraft 6.2 being a buggy mess, and after all of the issues that we had during the head start with the Aether Data Center and not being abler to log in..  I had set my expectations pretty low.  So when I got home I started something cooking in the oven and wandered upstairs in order to attempt a login, while waiting.  Much to my surprise I got right in and the servers were joyfully painless.  In fact around 9:30 pm last night folks were still saying they made it through without an issue.  It seems that Square Enix had something up their sleeve and actually did put a fix in place even though it did not make it into the patch notes.  Once upon a time I said that I had faith that they would learn from their mistakes seen during A Realm Reborn, and it seems that sure enough they did.  While we are only a single day into it, I have to say that was one of the absolute smoothest “official” launch days I have experienced.  Things just worked, and I was able to keep trucking along and progressing forward.

HeavenswardFirstRMT Once upon a time there was an initial crush of new players on opening day after the headstart finished.  I am wondering however if this is actually the case anymore, or if now that we are so familiar with doing so… everyone just preorders to make sure they get access to the game as soon as possible.  For most of the headstart my screen had been blissfully absent from gold seller spam, but I have to report last night…  I got my first third party RMT message.  The funny thing about it is that it was far less intelligible than normal, so I am wondering if somehow they have upgraded their filters and the spammers have had to figure out new methods around it.  The reality is that hopefully the fact that they have to have completely the 2.55 storyline will deter some of the popup spam accounts at least while in the Heavensward content.  Ash was saying they placed some additional restrictions on trial accounts, so in theory that might be helping as well.  In any case my screen is no longer filled with a constant stream of spammers so whatever they did the improvement is appreciated.

The Aery

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-23 20-37-44-32 My goal for the evening was to be able to get through the third dungeon called The Aery, located in the Churning Mists.  This location of the map as Kodra and I talked last night seems very much like the Netherstorm region of The Burning Crusade.  The main difference being that instead of being an area where the land simply doesn’t exist… this is a series of floating islands high in the sky presumably over another land mass.  Traditionally I have been nabbing Tamrielo to do these dungeons, but since last night was a class night for him… I had to wait around until enough other willing participants showed up.  While I have generally felt like I am behind the curve it seems that in reality I am actually ahead of several of our guild members.  Eventually I was able to gather up Mor, Kodra and Liyhe and tackle the dungeon.  I have to say that once again I really enjoyed the experience of pushing through this instance without much prior knowledge about it.  I knew that it was essentially a giant nest of dragons, and I knew that at the end I would more than likely face off against Nidhogg…  but everything in between was new and fresh to me.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-23 23-10-19-26 My bags are quite literally loaded down with spare white mage and ninja gear, because it seems like that is the only sort of thing that I can make drop when doing instances.  Last night however I finally got something else to drop…  apparently a tanking skirt.  They call it a “Longkilt” but in reality it actually is a skirt…  but a skirt that was a significant upgrade both in ilevel and stats so I am rolling with it.  I figure I will not likely be wearing it long enough to warrant spending a glamour prism on it.  Most of the gear upgrades I have been getting have been coming from side quests at this point.  I have had pretty abysmal luck with dungeon drops, which is unfortunate considering that there is at least theoretically a lot of really cool gear that comes from these leveling dungeons.  I figure at this point I am hopefully going to be running these places quite a bit for various guildies as they reach that point in the story.  Right now I am pretty much offering my tanking services to anyone who wants to take me somewhere.  I have yet to resort to actually random queues, not that I have a real objection to them… I would just still rather run with my free company over just about anyone else.

The Other Game

Traditionally my morning blog posts have this three section approach, but this morning I am finding myself struggling to put anything here.  Right now when it comes to Heavensward content I am just overwhelmed by the amount of new things to do and experience, and if I had limitless time I would still feel like I need more of it.  As for the other major item that released yesterday the World of Warcraft 6.2 patch…  I admit I logged in, got the quest in my garrison to go to the Iron Docks…  apparently took the wrong flight point and after running around for a few logged right back out.  I lacked the drive to go back to the flight point and fly somewhere else.  I guess part of me had hoped that I would simply log in, start my shipyard building and be done with it.  Unfortunately it seems you have to go through a series of quests to be able to unlock this feature and right now that might be a bridge too far for me.  Its like right now World of Warcraft is a packaged Oreo cookie…  good on its own right, but I have a piece of homemade pecan pie with whipped cream on top staring at me…  and that Oreo just doesn’t look as tasty compared to it.

With the raid seemingly in a state of flux, and my return to it uncertain…  I am starting to wonder how long it will be before I go ahead and simply cancel my World of Warcraft account once more.  It is a perfectly fine game, but lacks whatever it is that I am looking for in a game.  I always find myself back at this point, where the little things about the game end up annoying me.  Each time I go through this song and dance however it ends up being less passionate.  There was a time when I would write fiery posts about how wrong Blizzard was about this or that, but in the end much like the name reclamation thing…  I am just finding it isn’t worth the effort.  I feel like World of Warcraft is on this course to a destination that I just am not interested in going.  The ride itself is comfortable enough, and there are interesting people to chat with on the train…  but eventually you realize that you don’t actually want to go to the same place they are going.  I will admit this last week not having a raid to go to on Tuesday or Thursday has been like a weight lifting off of my shoulders.  This alone makes me think that more than likely I simply won’t be returning from this sabbatical.

Goodbye Names

Preorder Announcements

Gw2 2012-09-16 16-09-42-21 This is a topic I have mulled over for several days, and am just finally getting around to posting.  I have had a fairly rocky relationship with Guild Wars 2 that started with me bowing out of their alpha program and ended with me finally finding my groove a few months back and getting my first character to 80.  The game is enjoyable but honestly it is not the kind of enjoyable I had hoped it would be.  Which was all the more surprising when I found myself oddly riveted to the presentation at Pax South in January.  I thought maybe it was the energy of the crowd, but whatever it was I found myself actually looking forward to the Heart of Thorns expansion.  I have always liked Dark Knight type characters, and the Revenant looked very much like a character in my wheel house.  So as we moved into E3 I was looking forward to seeing more information about the game, namely about the release date, pricing information, and what the guild hall system would end up being like.  In all cases I pretty much got what I was hoping for, but upon seeing the pricing something struck in my craw.

As I looked through the options available on the website… the Standard, Deluxe and Ultimate versions all included the previous game.  I kept looking for the versions of the game for players who bought the game at launch and had no need for the base game.  Problem is there wasn’t one, and there was not planned on being one.  Ultimately what I was looking for was a $10 or so price break on purchasing the game, to acknowledge the fact that I have owned their game forever now.  The funny thing is… had they not mentioned anything about the core version…  it probably would not have annoyed me at all.  I guess I am not alone in my frustration because yesterday Arena Net announced that they would be giving Veteran Players an extra character slot to make up for the fact that they have owned the game so long.  This is a nice gesture, but for me… who already has two empty slots because I don’t care enough to roll more characters…  it still rings a little hollow.  For the time being I won’t be pre-ordering, and honestly not even sure if I will be playing…  just depends on what else I happen to be doing at the time this game launches.  If nothing else I am sure it will go on sale at some point and I will be able to pick it up then.

Goodbye Names

WoWScrnShot_110512_200150 I guess this morning is going to be a mixed bag of commentary from me, because another thing that mildly frustrated me yesterday was the announcement that World of Warcraft would be releasing all character names that had not logged in since December 7th 2010.  While 2010 is a very long time ago… I also happen to have a bunch of characters.  In fact I have a grand total of four different World of Warcraft accounts, and my primary and active account has managed to hit the maximum number of fifty characters.  I have characters spread out on dozens of servers that I have no clue when the last time I played on them.  So last night when I saw this news I had resigned myself to spending two hours logging every character on and off to make sure I reset the timer.  Apparently the plan going forward is to do this release of character names each time Blizzard releases a World of Warcraft expansion.  Personally I think that simply having an active subscription should be enough of a toll to pay to keep your names from getting the axe… but it seems that is not the case.

So while I was extremely frustrated when I first read that…  my frustration faded as I came to the sad realization that there are very few characters in World of Warcraft that I really care about anymore.  I have only had one foot in that game for the bulk of this expansion, and last night I realized I would far rather spend my hour making progress in Heavensward than logging characters in and out to make sure they did not get squashed.  Today should be a big day for World of Warcraft with the 6.2 patch content being released…  but I am finding myself not excited about it at all.  I have too much new and shiny going on in another game, and while at some point I will log in and get my Naval missions going, for the foreseeable future I am not planning on raiding.  That was really the last thing keeping me connected to that world was my raiding, and when it started to feel stale and forced…  I felt it was time to start quietly fading into the background.  So I guess at this point I am come around full circle, if someone really wants to be one of my old character names…  then awesome go be it, because I won’t be using the name.

In Other News

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-22 22-46-13-35 Last night was a pretty great night… once I was able to get through the login boss mind you.  I have some serious fears as to what tonight is going to hold in that department, unless Square Enix has something up their sleeves to make that problem magically go away today.  For most of the night I was held up in the main storyline trying to get to level 55, so immediately upon logging in I started trying to arrange some dungeons.  However other people in the guild needed stuff, so we arranged a very quick Shiva Hard trial for one of the guildies.  It is amazing how “easy” this fight is, but then again my scale is greatly skewed from having just finished the Shiva Extreme battle last week.  From there we ran another round of Sohm Al, which again dropped some nifty stuff for our alts.  I  think I managed to add one more piece of the cosmetic set to my inventory, which is awesome… because I absolutely want to complete the full set.  Ashgar mentioned earlier in the evening that he needed the first primal encounter, and we also had several others nearing that point… so we hung out for a bit letting them get caught up before taking on the primal and defeating it rather brutally.  That fight with a full guild group is a very different experience than with random players.

From there… we were bad people in that  we decided to  try and plant the seeds of raid addiction in a friend of ours.  Lately Shiana has been leveling in game, and he was our raid leader back during Vanilla WoW and has raided off and on since then.  I am not sure if it was Tam or myself that suggested it last night, but in either case we were both in collusion to get him into raiding.  As a result we started last night on Binding Coil of Bahamut Turn 5, and while we had two new players to the fight… we managed to get through it without much issue.  It was helped massively by the fact that both of the players that we grabbed were seasoned raiders in other games.  From there we moved into Second Coil of Bahamut aka Turn 9 and we struggled a bit.  Firstly with Ashgar gone by this point, I had to take over and learn the main tank role on the fight.  In my experience each time you change roles on a fight, it is like starting back from square one and relearning everything.  Then we had Shiana for whom this was just his second FF raid experience…  but all in all we managed to make what felt like a bit of progress.  At the very least I think I could fill in for Ash if I needed to, once I got over the whole Ravensbeak straight up murdering me bit.  It was a great night of gaming… and tonight I am hoping to get a run of the third dungeon in… that I just unlocked.

Lord of the Hive

Fears for Launch

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 06-47-05-93 All in all it was a pretty great head start weekend, but there was one big problem that I fear is only going to get worse as we move forward to the official launch tomorrow.  Right now the initial datacenter login procedure is having some major issues.  What is happening is that several of the highest population servers are all on the Aether data center that I also happen to play on.  When you attempt to connect to that data center, if it cannot find a slot the client times out… throws a nasty error and exits.  This is like the worst possible way to handle this error, and my hope is that we see a patch soon at that at least takes you back to the start screen allowing you to attempt to connect again.  Normally speaking it takes a half dozen tries to get past this screen before getting into the login server queue… at which point you have won and get to play the game.  Last night I opted to switch machines and got stuck behind the login issues for roughly fifteen tries before being able to make it into the game.  If we are running into these problems on a Sunday evening… I feel like life is going to be unbearable come Tuesday for the official launch of the game.

I love Square but sometimes they just make horrible design decisions when it comes to infrastructure.  The way the client works is that you log in on the launcher, and then it launches the game passing in an encrypted token with your authentication information.  As a result if anything goes wrong with the client, it essentially crashes back to desktop and to the launcher forcing you to log in again.  If you have the mobile authenticator this means entering another one time password and beginning the entire process over again.  If you remember the above image from the original launch of the game… and all the infrastructure issues we had to deal with.  They all came from the fact that they launched the game without any form of a queue system.  The positive is that they have fixed that issue and for the most part the game has been stable if you can get past the Data Center gates.  I had some initial lag on the first day, but after that the game has been flawless…  once you get logged into it.  My hope is that with the launch of the game we see a small patch that changes how the client works, in that it no longer drops back to desktop on timeout errors, but instead allows you to attempt a reconnection.

Lord of the Hive

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-20 20-47-42-97 Yesterday was a big day of taking on new content, and potentially there will be some story spoilers here, so apologies ahead of time.  When I wrote my last blog post I mentioned that I had unlocked the first trial and yesterday after dropping my wife off for her next trip I managed to attempt it.  Ravana the Lord of the Hive appears pretty quickly through the story as being the primal associated with the Gnath, an insectoid beast tribe from the Dravinian Forelands.  Instead of waiting around for a full guild group, I queued for it and managed to get a group relatively easily.  In the group was a paladin tank that had apparently done the fight a few times, and helped us through the various pit falls.  It was decided that I would end up tanking, since the Paladin was wearing mostly strength gear and since Ravana hits extremely hard.  This fight like so many other primals has a hard wipe mechanic that if you do not dps down the adds fast enough a saber falls to the ground.  Towards the end of the add phase he sucks the entire group up into a whirlwind and they take damage for each saber that is left on the ground in this fashion…  in my experience more than one… maybe two is a full raid wipe.

Now with the Free Company I have, my point of view on dps is a bit skewed.  Most of us rolled into this expansion in most of a full set of level 130 gear, and most of our dps do silly amounts of damage.  We were flat out failing at the dps check mechanic, so I suggested that I go into my new deliverance stance and help with the adds.  That seemed to make all the difference in the world as I was able to shred the adds pretty quickly in my new pseudo dps stance.  We made it through the encounter, but took long enough to get a limit break three, and another limit break two…  and the group was getting precariously close to a second “saber” phase.  I didn’t realize our dps was that low, and honestly I walked out of the fight thinking it was just “that hard”.  Later in the evening yesterday we walked into the encounter with seven of eight members of the group being from our free company.  We did not manage to get a limit break three at all before he died, and during the add phase he didn’t even get a single saber to hit the ground.  With that sort of dps… the fight was actually really easy, but I still am concerned about what the fight will be like on extreme mode.

Sohm Al

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-21 16-50-14-53 The second bit of content that I got to experience new yesterday was the dungeon of Sohm Al.  You reach it very shortly after finishing the first trial encounter, and it happens to act as a gate keeper for your final Aether Current that you get upon completing the quest.  Thankfully as soon as I got there in the content I had healers and dps ready to go with me, so I was able to get a full guild group for my first experience in there.  I have to say I am really liking the dungeon design so far, in that they are extremely fun experiences to go through.  They remind me very much of the last set of dungeons that they released as far as difficulty level.  Additionally so far they seem to be dropping some interesting looking gear, that I hope to collect a full set of.  The tanky set that comes from Sohm Al looks like the armor that the Lucia wears, so it might be my next appearance set that I wear for a bit.  The new crafted gear that you get from quests however appears to be influenced from the Varlet set that comes from the previous 2.55 expert dungeons.  I’ve expanded the number of retainers that I have once more, and now I am feeling less constrained about the awesome things that I am collecting.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-21 17-13-47-77 When the game released originally I did what I always do in MMOs and tried to complete every single quest objective that it places in front of me.  The problem being that in Final Fantasy XIV there are a fixed number of quests available for ALL of your jobs.  This meant that after my very first job… I was forced to grind them up using FATEs and dungeons with zero quest support.  This time around they seem to be flooding us with quests, but I am tackling them in a very methodical method.  Essentially I am following the main storyline until I reach a level gate, meaning that I have to have progressed another level to get the next step.  At this point I go back and start working my way through the side quests looking for any that unlock Aether Currents, and after I have completed those, I start doing a bare minimum needed to get to the next level threshold.  The goal is that I save plenty of side quests for when I start working on my dragoon, and hopefully that eases that process at least a little bit.  Last night I hit another level gate in the story content, but thankfully I have maybe an eighth of a level to go before hitting 55 and progressing again.  I am not sure if we are going to raid tonight or not, but in any case my hope is to push through to the next level and continue the story, because it is getting really damned good.

Making Story Matter

The First Trial

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-20 20-47-09-89 Today begins the third day so far with Heavensward and I am feeling so completely behind.  This is of course something I am doing to myself, as I am still significantly ahead of several of the other free company members, but I have this sense of falling behind.  I guess it part it comes from the fact that expansions are by nature a reset.  On Wednesday night I was that guy that had two max level and well geared tanks, a max level and well geared healer, and both a ranged and a melee dps also max level and well geared.  I could literally fill any role I needed to fill in a party, and this gave me a great sense of confidence knowing that I could also we be useful in some way.  Now as of Friday all of that is gone… and I am back to clawing my way uphill to try and arrive at that position of comfort again. I am focusing on my Warrior and as a result I can ONLY  tank an instance.  So that means I either fill that role or I have to watch from the sidelines as people have fun without me.

That is the stress of an expansion, the immediate feeling of inadequacy that only goes away with copious amounts of time spent pouring levels into all of your characters.  It is a real struggle to keep myself from powering through everything so that I can reach that point of safety faster.  Like in the back of my head I have this order in which I intend to level things to get back there, but if I am not careful the whole thing can be overwhelming.  Everything is new and shiny and I am sure I will have plenty of time to level and still experience all of the content as it was intended.  Right now I am held up on the first trial encounter, so I am hoping that as soon as I finish writing up my blog post I can pop in and try and defeat that so I can move forward in the story.  The thing I find interesting is that they have apparently skipped “normal” mode entirely because this first trial is flagged as “hard”.  I guess it makes sense as it happens post 50, but in the grand scheme of things I feel like maybe “leveling” content cannot really be deemed “hard” modes.

Making Story Matter

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-20 19-28-17-63 The story is getting extremely good, and that is the thing that I am the most impressed with.  Usually when an MMO expansion happens, there is a resetting of things to square one and the world essentially forgets what its last state happened to be.  I’ve always found this frustrating because I want the world to remember where it has been before.  I want things to change and that the NPCs that I spent time working with, will remember who I am when I meet them again.  One of the single most immersion breaking moments for me is when I encountered Alexstraza in Twilight Highlands and she had no memory of working with me at Wyrmrest Temple in the Dragonblight of Northrend.  Sure years have passed by I was set up as a big damned hero through the events, and I am still the same big damned hero today.  She should have embraced me as a friend based on those past events, not as another nameless and faceless NPC.

More than anything Final Fantasy XIV seems to do an excellent job of working with your character being the badass that it supposedly is.  The reactions that you get are extremely human.  Some people fear you for your power, and others seek to test their mettle against it.  But regardless of their reaction…  there is no NPC that at this point does not realize you are the “Warrior of Light”.  The storyline of Heavensward takes place literally moments after the final events of 2.55, and while sure it would be frustrating to a new player to be told that they cannot enter the new content without catching up in the storyline…  this is because the storyline would seem unintelligible if you did not experience the events of “A Realm Reborn”.  This is really a new experience for me when it comes to MMOs and I have to say I am absolutely in love with it.  Square Enix has figured out how to make MMO storyline and lore matter… and I am so damned thankful they did.  I just hope that other games see how well it works in Heavensward and start adopting it in their own games.

AggroChat #62 – Flight and Chocobos

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 23-50-32-16 I originally thought that when we set down to record this episode of AggroChat we would end up putting aside all pretense and simply talk about the Heavensward expansion for Final Fantasy XIV.  However what happened in reality is we ended up recording an extremely length show where we basically did that… AND a normal show as well.  While many or our weeks revolved around the launch of this new expansion…  we had to do something to bide our time until the Friday launch.  Grace has apparently been completely hooked on Marvel Super Heroes so we talked about that for awhile.  The other game she has been playing is Wildstar, so we spent a good deal of time chatting about how that game has been progressing.

In Final Fantasy XIV before the outage we managed to take down Shiva and Odin once again so we talked a bit about that.  Then myself, Tam and Kodra have been playing an awful lot of ArcheAge so we talk again about that and our progress so far.  Then finally when we start talking about Heavensward we get sidetracked on a lengthy debate about the merits of flight in MMOs and whether or not it is simply GM cheats.  Each of us brought our own perspectives to the conversation and quite honestly this could have been a show topic in itself.  Finally we talk about our experience so far with the Heavensward expansion to close out the show.  It is an extremely packed show, and clocks in just shy of two hours.

Learning to Fly

Coerthas Distractions

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 08-15-59-02 All I really wanted yesterday was to sit in one spot and play Final Fantasy XIV all day long.  While that did not happen as I had originally envisioned I did still manage to get a fair amount of play time.  The biggest interruption came early on when I was trying to work on my blog post, and the air conditioning company called to tell me they were on their way over.  Firstly I had completely forgotten that I had scheduled our twice a year maintenance for Friday thinking I would be off from work anyways.  Secondly…  the guy who came over seemed relatively new and manage to take an hour and a half doing what normally takes the guy fifteen minutes to finish.  So that was ultimately why I ended up posting so late.  By the time that finished we needed to run a few errands, and I spent until roughly two doing that.  Finally when I got home however I had a solid block of play time and also a mission set out in front of me.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 16-03-31-09 Tam had apparently been playing since quite literally the servers went life at 2 am pst.  As a result he was anxiously waiting on us to catch up so that he could run the very first dungeon.   While Dusk Vigil is not entirely gated by the main story, it does require you to have gotten far enough into the story to unlock a specific camp of NPCs.  Previously I was getting easily distracted by every single FATE I came across…  which was pretty much an endless feedback loop since at any given moment there are a dozen different FATEs up in Western Coerthas.  Instead I had to shift to being laser focused on completing the quests.  This batch of storyline however deserves some time to slow down and savor it a bit as you quest through it.  They have done something that no other MMO has done…  picked up the storyline moments after the last quest of the previous expansion.  Over the course of “A Realm Reborn” they learned how to extremely effectively tell compelling story, and this expansion just continues that trend.  I feel like I am only a little ways in and they have already dropped several big bombshells on me.

Dusk Vigil

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 21-48-23-26 Normally I would have told them to go with another tank to Dusk Vigil… even though I love the act of clearing a dungeon that very first time.  Problem being at the moment I am the highest progressed tank in the guild and likely the only one who has unlocked it.  Around 8:30 last night my wife and I decided to go for a walk down to the local shaved ice place, and I told them that I would run the dungeon when I got back.  Upon coming back the new renters across the street were out in the yard and it felt awkward not to go over and say hello.  People think it is strange that we don’t really know anyone in our neighborhood…  but I have to say this is 0 for 2 when it comes to introducing ourselves to new people.  This new one is just as insane seeming and clingy as the last one…  now the positive is that there was an Xbox 360 set up on the living room floor with Lord of the Rings movies and Dragon Age Inquisition scattered around it.  So maybe just maybe they are going to be cool people?  After making them wait half the night we eventually go away from the neighbor and I went upstairs to fight the login boss and get back in game.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 22-19-25-94 Surprisingly I managed to log in immediately and get straight into the server, and got my group invite and we were up and running.  The big take away from the dungeon is that much like the overworld…  the mobs hit extremely hard.  I am an ilevel 128 Warrior, and that first trash pack I pulled was a bit of a wakeup call.  The coolest thing about the dungeon however were the bosses which were in essence a remix of mechanics we have seen in some of the raids, but assembled in a manner that felt fresh.  I imagine at some point we will have a gear level where we can ignore the mechanics but for the time being…  folks have to pay attention.  The layout of the dungeon was extremely cool as well and had both a Coerthas flavor and a stone vigil flavor the deeper you got into it.  The background music and boss music were both amazing as well… with the zone music sounding like a remix of the Heavensward theme with Snowcloak.  The dungeon also dropped some really nice level 110 items that had unique graphics, so I hope to pop back in and try and collect more of it.

Learning to Fly

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 23-32-49-86 I have no clue how far a Yalm is, but over the course of yesterday I think I travelled thousands of them hunting down Aether Currents.  For the uninitiated Final Fantasy XIV gives you a brand new Black Chocobo just a few quests into the Heavensward Storyline.  Also for the uninitiated Black Chocobos old a special place in the Final Fantasy pantheon of being the only breed of Chocobo that can actually fly, and while they often look more purple than black…  the one you get in Heavensward is officially a jet black chocobo with pretty cool barding.  When you get yours you also get this device called an Aether Compass.  In order to fly in a zone you need to track down a certain number of the Aether Currents, and in Western Coerthas this is 10 scattered throughout the zone and 5 that you get from doing quests.  If you have ever played a game that has a tracking system the compass works pretty much like this.  You click the item and it tells you the direction and distance away the next Aether Current is located.  This appears in your quest items tab, but I highly suggest moving it to a hotbar because you will be clicking this thing constantly.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-20 00-19-29-65 As a result you have to not only try and figure out how to traverse a zone that is extremely difficult to traverse do to some extreme elevation changes, you have to do this while interpreting messages like “381 Yalms to the South East”.  Most of the Aether Currents are found as a result of some jumping puzzles, that can either be extremely difficult to get to…  or relatively simply if you figure out the path they intended you to take.  The worst feeling is jumping down off something and seeing an Aether Current on the way down… that you could have gotten if only you know it was there ahead of time.  Once you have gathered up all of the currents you can fly around the zone on your Black Chocobo… and I have to say it feels amazing to finally be able to do this.  Sure the whole Aether Current thing is frustrating, but it did an amazing job of teaching me the layout of the zone and it is really the sort of thing that I did not finish until I was already MOSTLY finished with a zone.  This is a great compromise for allowing players to fly, but not feeling like you are somehow cheapening the content in the process.  Other games should really take note of this system going forward, because it feels like you are really earning your ability to fly each time.

It’s Finally Here!

Birthdays are Weird

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Having a birthday and being an active member of social media… is a strange thing.  Yesterday I was completely overwhelmed by the number of birthday wishes that came flooding through.  I tried to respond to all of them and thank each person individually…  but I am almost certain I missed a few people in the furious scroll.  I have to say how special all of you guys made me feel yesterday, and more importantly how loved.  It made an otherwise stressful day seem more manageable.  I had taken the day off from work, but also my wife was to be flying in mid day.  I talked about this a bit yesterday but she was off grading AP exams again, and we were both concerned that she would get delayed by the weather.  Technically this did happen but she was lucky enough to make the connecting flight in Dallas and got home on time.  However about the time I picked her up is when the worst of the weather starting hitting.  I am not used to this whole gale force winds and pouring rain thing, so I have a whole new appreciation for the folks that are used to riding out tropical storms.

We made it home safely however and eventually changed into dry clothing.  We grabbed a whataburger on the way home, and almost immediately after eating my wife was conked out on the sofa snuggling with all three cats.  I put Venture Brothers on Hulu and broadcast it to the television via chromecast and continued my leveling in ArcheAge.  The more I delve into this game the more it reminds me of older games.  I absolutely found a Kithicor Forest last night, and for those who are not familiar with that name… it was a forest in Everquest where during the day relatively harmless and non-aggressive mobs spawned, but at night large amounts of max level undead spawned and roamed.  In this case in ArcheAge I happened to find a rice paddy that by day had some crocodiles but nothing major, however when the sun sets, a whole slew of skeletons spawned in.  While they were not max level they were however damned near instant spawn making it extremely easy to get overwhelmed.  I am still very much enjoying this game and even though Heavensward is happening I still plan on poking my head back in every now and then.

Sleep Won

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 06-46-13-61 I had all the intention in the world to get up this morning at 4 am and begin playing Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward as soon as the servers came online.  However when it came around to last night, and heading to sleep around 9 pm, I opted that I should just sleep in.  Systems are always glitchy when they first come online, and instead I got up around 6:30 and after getting out and getting breakfast started streaming around 7 am.  I have to say so far everything has been going pretty smoothly all things considering.  I had to fight the login boss about five times, but eventually I got to the character load screen and managed to do the introduction quests that got me into Ishgard and house Fortempts.  I have to say the new city is gorgeous, but confusing as hell to navigate.  This one has tons of ups and downs and it seems like the quest you need to get to is always on the wrong level of the zone.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 06-51-31-66 With this said it is going to take a significant amount of time before I can navigate it near as well as I can any of the existing cities.  However I would put it along the lines of Limsa Lominsa as far as frustration taken to learn the layout.  I had similar issues rolling a Marauder and starting there originally.  As far as the expansion it seems to have completely cured the DPS queues, with everyone rolling Dark Knights.  Apparently folks are reveling in the fact that they can now instantly queue as any dps class, and I have to admit it is giving me pause and making me want to level my ninja a bit.  Instead I am forged ahead with my plan to level the warrior first.  I have to say I am impressed with the difficulty of the mobs.  The early quests in Ishgard reward level 115 gear and I am rolling into the expansion with 127 combined ilevel.  Things hit hard, and take a long time to take down…  so I cannot imagine coming straight to  Ishgard after leveling through the original storyline.  I guess in a way this might be why they are forcing people to defeat 2.55, because in order to do that…  you have to have gotten your ilevel up significantly.

It’s Finally Here!

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 08-15-59-02 Right now in Coerthas Western Highlands, the fates are rolling nonstop, and I have to admit a big part of me wants to take advantage of this while I can.  As a warrior I can pretty much cheese my contribution and get gold rating almost 100% of the time.  Earlier on the stream I rolled up on a FATE that was 90% complete and managed to generate enough threat to get to gold before it despawned.  Right now it feels amazing to see that experience bar moving again and so far I am really happy with my choice.  As far as what the future will bring…  I just want to play the game :)  I am not in a massive rush to get to 60, but I also want to be able to experience the dungeons with my friends.  Here is hoping that I can unlock the first dungeon before too much long and check it out before the end of the day.  In the mean time I am going to cut this blog post short and wish you all a great day…  I know I will be having one as I explore Heavensward.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 07-59-51-12

Splashy Pony Brothers

Thanks to my Friends

This morning I had every intention to sleep in, but I guess my body the way that I have trained it over the years conspired against me.  I woke up moments after the alarm would have gone off normally, and then stayed in a sort of half sleep half awake state until I finally gave up around 6:30.  Now an hour later… I am finally pulling myself away from my insanely scrolling twitter feed to attempt to write a blog post.  I guess I had forgotten just how overwhelming being on twitter can be on your Birthday.  I love each and every one of you, and maybe this year more than most…  which is something I will elaborate on shortly.  June is the travel season for my wife, and each year she has a series of conventions and other events that she travels to.  This has been a thing for several years, but no matter how often it happens…  you never quite get used to it.  During the month of June she will be gone for a week, home a few days, gone another week etcetera.  So the best Birthday present I could possibly get right now is her flying home today… and I am really hoping that her plane is not delayed by the remnants of the Hurricane.

Now in the past I have struggled with this existence of being alone for the better part of a month.  This has generally been the time of the year when my depression flares up the most, since I am generally speaking sitting alone in a house with my thoughts and a menagerie of animals.  This year however has been different, and I think it is thanks to all of you out there that relentlessly check in on me.  I feel like I am surrounded by so many awesome people that seem to love me that I am never really completely alone.  There is always a message waiting on my response somewhere, or someone looping me into a conversation.  The AggroChat crew especially has become this second family that hunts me down if they don’t hear from me in a few days, because they know my tendencies to cocoon when the depression starts.  I want to thank all of you for essentially keeping me from dropping into my normal yearly funk.  My friends and my free company have been this offsetting force of amazing in my life and as a result have kind of made every day my wife has been away more tolerable.

Splashy Pony Brothers

ffxiv 2015-05-04 21-02-18-84 I spent my final night in FFXIV before the downtime the same way I have spent many nights, hanging out on Teamspeak and helping folks do content.  It seems so strange that last night was the end of one era of Final Fantasy and tomorrow morning will begin another.  In a way I kind of like the fact that we have this entire day outage, because I guess in some way it makes the whole process seem more real.  In some games I have literally logged out of one client and back into a brand new one over the course of thirty minutes, and it always felt strange.  I am sure there are people out there that are frustrated by being locked out of the game for this period of time, but I guess for me it makes the experience more meaningful.   I am just hoping that I can get to sleep early tonight and that the excitement won’t be too overwhelming, because in many ways it feels a bit like Christmas Eve and I am five years old.

Last night we managed to down Odin with a batch of new people, and in the process met a really nice White Mage on Cactuar, that I have subsequently friended.  I am consistently surprised by just how nice people generally are when we find them through the server party finder system.  In fact this one gets bonus credit because we screwed up and originally thought we needed another dps.  Upon explaining our screw up she was cool and said that she also could heal the fight.  Moments later we were making attempts on Odin and shockingly I think it only took us three tries  before we defeated him.  After that we attempted to sort out what we were doing next, with many people mentioning Titan…  but in the end we wound up going to do Leviathan Extreme instead.  This is one of my favorite fights, but this time they needed me to be a Paladin and do the stun lock thing.  I am just not comfortable tanking as a paladin and the whole experience felt frustrating, as compared to my warrior.  However I managed to do a decent enough job that we pushed through and got the defeat.  To make things even cooler a pony whistle dropped and now Mor and I can be splashy pony brothers!

A Strange Birthday

FFXIVisPatching So now that I am wrapping up my blog post I need to hurry around like mad.  I need to be at the airport to pick up my wife around 1:30, and in the meantime I need to attempt to pick up the house.  While it is not exactly in bad shape, because really I haven’t done anything that crazy since she has been gone…  it needs a round of sprucing up so she has a nice place to come home to.  Additionally I need to gather up the information I need to get my car tag, since she mentioned maybe doing that on the way home today so that we don’t have to get out of the house and do it tomorrow.  So while I would love to hang out in my pajamas and play video games all day… I suppose I will have to go off and be and adult.  It is going to be awesome to have my wife home again, but it is also a strange experience getting used to not being the only person in the room.  Unfortunately it will be a short lived experience because if I remember correctly she is heading back out again on Sunday, but this time for a much shorter trip.

In the meantime my Final Fantasy XIV client is patched, and I am floored that it was only 4.3 gig.  From what I am hearing this morning however they have apparently been patching in assets for months.  Supposedly half of the zones that we will be exploring have been in since the launch of A Realm Reborn.  I hope this all means that tomorrow is going to be an extremely smooth launch, but I still need to get my laptop started patching as well.  I am sure there will be some sort of a final patch when the servers come back up from the downtime that lets the client know it is time to be Heavensward, but I am hoping it is a small one.  I guess in theory this game is scaled to work well over consoles, so it makes complete sense that it would have really tight patches.  So far I am impressed and I am hoping that feeling continues through the launch.  This game had an exceptionally rocky start with the relaunch in August 2013, and I am hoping they have learned their lessons.

Shiva Down

Last Of the E3 Shows

I think at this point I am ready to be done with E3 2015 for awhile.  In theory yesterday was the tail end of the major conferences.  I have to say that when I originally made my statement that Bethesda had won E3, I was doing so with an over exaggerated amount of hyperbole.  I have to say however as the dust settles… they still managed to put on the best event and was the only show where every single thing they announced was something I cared about, at least on some level.  The most frustrating event for me personally was the Square Enix event, in part because they combined a line up of amazing games…  with a high school speech classroom quality of presentation ability.  I am not sure how they managed to make these games seem boring, but they certainly did.  All of that said I am completely amped to get my hands on Just Cause 3…  or that game that lets me blow everything up.  I got a see a little bit of game play on Twitch yesterday evening that showed them taking out bridges… and I could not be more enthralled.

The surprise of the year still is Microsoft in the fact that they presented me with what was an overall enjoyable conference after several years of being frustrated by their product offerings.  The problem being that last night during PC Gaming show they pretty much destroyed all interest I had in picking up an Xbox One, when they started announcing that several more previously Xbox exclusives would be coming to PC.  It seems as though I am going to finally get to play Gears of War in the new premastered form, and get my hands in the new Killer Instinct.  This makes me question even more of their previous “exclusivity” statements because it seems like they are treating Windows 10 and Xbox One as the same platform.  I guess in the grand scheme of things I am completely fine with this.  This lets me focus on a Gaming PC to get the Xbox exclusives and PS4 Console to get any remaining Sony exclusives.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5

tony-hawks-pro-skater Of all the games that I saw over the course of the last three days, the one that I am the most gleefully happy about is probably a surprising title.  I am so damned excited to see the return of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise to modern gaming, and yesterday I got to watch some game play on the twitch stream.  It looks and feels like a beautifie d version of the game I loved and remember spending so many hours playing in the original playstation, and later the playstation 2.  I cannot fully explain my love of this game, other than the fact that one upon a time I was a little skater punk kid.  While I never had the skill to do half of the things that you can do in THPS, I always wanted to carve and insane session out like my one time idols.  This is absolutely a guilty fantasy fulfillment experience for me, that allows someone who is relatively uncoordinated and has a shitty sense of balance to do insane grinds down every possible surface I can find.

Now Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD has been available on Steam for awhile now, and while I enjoy it quite a bit…  it is missing a lot of the reasons why I enjoyed the THPS series.  Firstly I loved the create a Skater mode that allowed me to essentially create a version of myself in the game and work my way through a “career mode”.  This feature thankfully has been confirmed to be in the new THPS5, as is the create a skate park feature that is also missing from HD.  Apparently there is going to be an in game market of sorts that will allow you to swap skate parks with folks online, greatly extending the replay ability of this title.  The negative is that it will initially release on the PS4 and Xbox One and then later on the other platforms including PC.  For me this is a simple decision since I played all the original Tony Hawk games on with a playstation controller in my hand, I have no problem picking this up for the PS4 which will also let me play it over my Vita.  Watching folks play this game, and seeing the new version of Warehouse and School 2… that has been renamed to School 3…  just put a massive cheesy grin on my face.

Shiva Down

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I had originally intended to write about this yesterday, but wound up with far too much to talk about on the E3 news front.  Monday night was our last raid night before the expansion lands Friday morning, and as such we focused on the two things that have been in our way for awhile now.  The first of which is the last of the extreme primal encounters, Shiva.  This fight is such a frustrating experience because it combines elements we are horrible at.  Namely our group is bad at doing the same dance over and over.  For example on Turn 9, everyone else does this method where they stack up and run as a group to drop the meteors.  However for us we simply do this thing we lovingly refer to as the “Benny Hill maneuver” where we just try and spread out around the edge of the room and move as the meteors drop.  Shiva combines elements of get away from everyone and stack the hell up in a way that ultimately ended up in many deaths along the way.

The worst of her mechanics is the bow attack, which she starts in phase two.  This fires arrows in a 270* arc from the front of her meaning that you have to be stacked tight on her ass to keep from getting hit.  What makes it worse however is that the normal damage dealt by bow to the tanks is truly insane.  Ashgar and I had to essentially cycle through cooldowns while in bow phase to have a shot in hell of staying alive.  On the attempt we defeated her, our strategy absolutely revolved around staying alive long enough to get a level three limit break… and then using that to resurrect the entire party and finish her off.  There is something so damned satisfying about the level three healer limit break, it is like a giant screw you to the boss when you can bring back your entire party.  It makes the whole experience seem like one of those insane Anime come from behind victories.  While we did not get much further in Turn 9, we did manage to take down the last of the Extreme primals so I can go into this expansion with a feeling of accomplishment.  Granted I know we will be fighting all of these extreme primals again partially for ponies and partially to get other guild members through the quests.  I feel like I am completely ready for Ishgard now, and I am going to have so much trouble sleeping tomorrow night.