Bahamut Is Down

Some Personal Stuff

I feel like it has been pretty noticeable that I have been in a bit of a funk for the last few weeks.  When this happens I tend to extract myself from the world until the passes, which isn’t necessarily the smartest thing that I can do.  However over the years I have done this as my coping mechanism, because I am always afraid I will snap at someone when I get moody.  For a bit yesterday I was wondering if my magical happy pills were not longer working, but then my wife asked me something.  Was my low as low as it has been in the past…  and to be honest no.  Normally the world would be crushingly oppressive, and instead I just felt sort of permanently bummed out.  So I guess maybe things are working just fine, they are just filling in the valleys so that the lows are quite as low as they would have been otherwise.

Yesterday was one of the more stressful days that I have had in awhile.  We had someone patch a server and due to a conflict between the Windows Update Service and MacAfee that we have seen numerous times now… it caused a process deadlock that ended up taking down production services for hours.  This was stressful in so many ways, because while there was nothing I did to cause it… there was also nothing I could really do to help it either.  It was another department with another manager… and another set of priorities responsible for the fault and the fix.  So when I came home…  I was at an extremely low point.  However my wife and I went out to dinner, and then as the evening went on I started to feel better about the world.  It was like peeking out of a fog to see a lovely day behind it.  I guess in the grand scheme of things… if all of my low spots are like this from now on…  I will count myself lucky because while it sucked, it was manageable.

Bahamut Is Down

ffxiv_dx11 2015-08-03 20-49-56-40 One of the struggles in game is that I feel like I am caught between two worlds a bit.  It has taken longer than I expected to get the Monday night raid group pieced together and ready to do Heavensward content.  As a result we have been focusing on trying to get through the Final Coil of Bahamut, and made some significant progress.  Last week we were just shy of forming a group, so going into Turn 13 last night… we were all rusty.  However it feels like we got our bearings more quickly than normal and made a few adjustments.  Previously I had been tanking Bahamut at the twelve o’clock position which seems the most obvious place to drag him as you are running in… and do the traditional drag the boss while running thing.  Instead we swapped things up and I drug up back to the six o’clock position we entered the room at.  This allowed Ashgar to pick up the adds significantly easier and also allowed the DPS to burn them down faster.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-08-03 20-51-40-81 The real challenge however was like always… we suck at dive bomb phases.  However in spite of the fact that you ultimately have to deal with something like five divebomb phases, they seemed to come together more smoothly than we were used to.  Essentially you have to find Bahamut, and move out of the way while also moving out of the way of Twintania that comes barreling through immediately after him.  I think we only made it through two or three of these phases completely clean, however we did manage to rez the few players that got pushed into a wall.  I am constantly impressed at still how difficult of a fight this is.  Sure this is expansion old content at this point, but I am damned happy to be able to say I have defeated Bahamut, and I have a title and a minion to show for it.  Paragon to a really spiffy White Mage Cane as a result, and part of me wants to try and muster the troops to do this more often so that we can farm the really awesome weapons for folks.  I have to say…  the most stressed I have ever been in Final Fantasy XIV is trying to find a way to survive Ahk Mourn.  On the positive side…  Alexander turn 3 has caused me to get really good at timing Holmgang.

Alex Finally

ffxiv_dx11 2015-08-03 21-44-31-73 Last night was a significant night because not only did it see us beating Turn 13 of Final Coil of Bahamut… but it also saw us officially starting this expansions raid content as a group.  I love the Wednesday night group, and I am enjoying what is happening there… but there is something extra special about getting the Monday night group into Alexander.  While Kodra, Grace and I are parts of both teams, there will always be something special about my first Final Fantasy XIV raid group.  So it makes me happy that this week everyone was up to 170 and several were considerably beyond that…  even though it took a little bit of cheatery to get Ash’s paladin in the zone by wearing some strength jewelry.  We only really had time to do turn one of Alexander, but we came really damned close to oneshotting it.  Had we not started freaking out because we thought we were coming up against the hard enrage… we absolutely would have downed it in the first try.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-08-03 21-08-41-56 On the second attempt everyone felt more confident and we pushed the dps so much harder than before.  The awesome thing about coming in on a Monday is that several of us were already capped on Alexander pieces for the week which meant pretty much all of the newish folks walked away with something spiffy.  I look forward to coming in next Monday and clearing all four turns of Alexander, and getting everyone their freebie accessories.  From there maybe some Bismarck and Ravana?  It makes me happy to feel like I am making forward momentum with both teams.  The only thing that frustrates me a little bit is that I feel like we should go back and do Turn 8, which is the turn that Monday night skipped to start work on Turn 9.  So maybe next week I can talk people into doing that so that we finally can close the book on the Coil of Bahamut.  I don’t want to sacrifice getting people through Alexander for it, but I would love to be able to say I have beaten each of the turns.  All in all it was a pretty great night, not just for the raid victories but for also clearing away the fog that I have been dwelling in.

Nael in the Coffin

Strange Dreams

For the last few nights I have had the strangest but at the same time most vivid dreams.  The problem is that they are for the most part utter nonsense.  For example this morning I woke up from a dream involving writer Beau Hindman.  He had reached out to me to ask if I had any gmail invites…  and for those of you for whom that makes zero sense…  Google mail was once upon a time invite only and invites were rationed and carefully guarded.  I told him that I had a couple that I could hand out, and he asked me to send one to someone.  Turns out the person in question was an old man that lived in the small town my wife grew up in.  Apparently Beau really needed to get ahold of this person… and apparently using the phone was just too cumbersome?  Trust me…  I fully understand a lack of wanting to call someone… so I too would probably go through strange lengths to avoid it.

When the guy didn’t accept the invite, I had to drive up to the small town and talk to him in person.  He was afraid that the internet would steal his soul, and by having an email account he would be supporting the terrorists or something.  So I spent the next hour talking him into accepting the invite, all so Beau would be able to contact him.  Sure it is madness, and honestly Beau and I are not even in contact that often, but somewhere in my brain it made all of this make sense.  That is the crazy thing about dreaming… is at the time none of this seems as irrational as it does when you are trying to break it apart later.  I guess Beau got pulled in because I know that he is originally from Oklahoma, and my wife often gets a staring role in my dreams…  so it is strange the way the mind weaves this seemingly plausible tapestry out of bits and pieces of leftover memories.

Nael in the Coffin

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-06 20-24-04-24 Monday nights is traditionally our Final Fantasy XIV raid group night, and last night was no exception.  For months… literally… we have been working on learning the dance on Turn Nine of the Coil of Bahamut.  For a long time now we have been super close to pushing over the edge, and held up on the madness that is the dive bomb phase.  Last night we wanted to defeat Nael by any means necessary so we could move on with our lives.  Not sure if it was true for all of our group, but I have developed a love and hate relationship with this fight, and was more than ready to put it behind me.  One of the features added with Heavensward is the ability to queue for something as an undersized group.  What this does in theory is zone you into a place without scaling your level down to the appropriate place.  What this means in practice is that you can now wreck certain zones for the purpose of collecting those dungeon drops you missed in the past.  Since several of us were sitting at level 60, we decided to give this option a shot on turn nine and see what would happen.

The truth is the very first attempt out of the gate we straight wiped to mechanics and over confidence.  After that it still took us a few tries to get the dance close enough to being correct to be able to finish off the encounter.  The funny thing is… that even with 20% echo and 10 more levels… the fight can still straight up eviscerate you.  I think we managed to down it on our fourth attempt last night, and can now move on with our lives into Final Coil.  On one level it bums me out that we didn’t “do it for real” by facing this encounter at level 50.  On the other hand however I am happy to be done with being in there.  There comes a time when you just get sick of seeing the same encounter over and over, and I remember our group reached that same place back in WoW’s Blackwing Lair with the Firemaw encounter.  It is going to be interesting to see what the next few weeks bring us as far as content goes.  Today is the official launch of Alexander, but as it stands right now… none of us are even vaguely closed to “geared enough” to tackle it.

Ice Packs and Grinding

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-07 06-43-39-47 Yesterday I stayed home from work because I was struggling to walk around.  So my key focus in life became making sure I was ice packing every hour or so for maximum effect.  This meant that most of the day I spent it hanging out on the couch with my leg propped up a bit.  It also means I spent a lot of time piddling around in Final Fantasy XIV.  Throughout the day I worked on getting all of my Clan Hunts for maximum upgrade token goodness, and did all three of my bonus law roulettes, which left a lot of time to work on my Dragoon.  Now previously I had managed to get it to level 51, which is key because that unlocks access to the dungeon Dusk Vigil.  So yesterday I spent the majority of my in game time queueing for Dusk Vigil over and over.  Before raid time last night I was but a sliver away from 53, which should grant me access to the second dungeon… Sohm Al.  The only problem with Dusk Vigil is that technically nothing in it other than the jewelry are strictly upgrades from what I had been wearing.

Sohm Al on the other hand… everything in there should be full of upgradey goodness other than maybe the weapon.  The other good thing about running all these dungeons is that I am able to soak up gear for my alt jobs for when I finally get around to leveling them.  I like that pretty much every dungeon in Heavensward offers an item set, which is unlike the old world where only every so often did a dungeon actually drop something cool looking.  I really want to finish the Dragoon set from Dusk Vigil because it looks kinda amazing.  It is a blue set of armor that looks just like the one that Lucia is wearing in the cut scenes.  In the news of me… well I am largely functioning better thanks to the constant ice packs.  At this point the swelling is down significantly and I am hoping I can function today without a lot of pain.  I am sure come this evening I will need to ice pack once more but for the time being… life seems to be grand, or at least getting there.

Wrong About Wildstar

More Initiates

ffxiv 2015-04-13 21-12-58-11 For as frustrated as yesterdays post was, today’s is all the more hopeful.  Lately on Wednesday nights I have been assisting a fledgling second static group in our free company out.  While it still struggles to get a full eight people, we are making some progress.  As more people level to the cap, more people will be available to join in the raiding fun and hopefully this will smooth the process out significantly.  For the last few weeks we have been working on Turn 5 of the Binding Coil of Bahamut, aka the first major hurdle and the gateway to the second coil.  Last week we made decent progress but were still struggling to get through the dive bomb phase.  That phase seems to be the biggest frustration with the fight, and once you figure out the timing the rest goes smoothly.  While I barded it up last week, this week I tanked it because that was the role that was needed.  Since my health was significantly higher than Damai we swapped roles and I took the Twintania role and he adjusted quickly to dealing with the adds.

Now our first group of the night was less than successful because we ended up having to pug in half of the players.  The positive was that we noticed that the people screwing up were not our own people.  As the evening went on more people got in game and we were able to fill out the rest of the slots with some other seasoned veterans.  From here I think it took four attempts before we downed the 5th turn and keyed a whole new group of players for the second coil.  This is awesome for a bunch of reasons… because firstly it means that second team is progressing nicely apart from issues getting people online at the right time.  Secondly however it also means we can start drawing on the pool of players available for Monday night turn 9 attempts as well.  I know Grace is itching to see t9, so hopefully this will smooth out some of our own attendance irregularities.  It is almost summer after all and with summer comes folks going off and doing summer things.

Wrong about Wildstar

WildStar64 2015-04-22 22-58-27-92 This morning I am questioning if I have been wrong about Wildstar thus far in feeling that the game was just not for me.  Granted we gave it a good shot and played this game at launch but it felt like something was off.  Now coming back and playing it again I am really enjoying myself, but there are a large number of details that are significantly different that I think are effecting my enjoyment.  When the initial video was released talking about the Exiles and Dominion, I naturally felt an immediate affinity with the Exiles…  the problem being most of my friends had that same immediate attraction to the Dominion.  I struggled with this choice until I found the Chua and for the most part enjoyed my time playing an Engineer.  The problem being…  I just did not enjoy that style of tanking.  What I should have played was a Warrior, like I did every time I actually enjoyed myself during the beta.  So this time around I am playing a Human Warrior and enjoying smashing faces and jumping around like mad.  The Exile side has this whole “Firefly” vibe that works for me, whereas the Dominion feel more like playing the Empire from Star Wars.  Both are interesting but at this point in my life… I feel more kinship with the rebels.

The other thing that is helping significantly is due to the whole promotion I have a hover board starting at level 1, which makes roaming around the zones so much more enjoyable.  Additionally thanks to the promotion I have some spending money from selling extra items on the open market.  Knowing my character is set for awhile on upgrades and spending money makes all the difference in the world.  Finally the pace I am playing with makes a huge difference.  Wildstar is the sort of game where piddling around feels more enjoyable than focused leveling.  I am stopping to smell the roses, and boulders, and landmines… well you get the idea.  Additionally I went the Soldier path, meaning I get to smash more things in the face and while I enjoyed Explorer…  smashing things in the face is just more my style.  At launch I had this overwhelming feeling of a need to keep up with everyone else, so that I would be viable for dungeon running.  This time since I am playing all by myself for the most part…  I am taking my time and poking through the content at my own speed.  All of which adds up to a completely different experience for me.  All of this proves that the circumstances you go into a game greatly colors your end experience.  So far I am enjoying playing this game as a secondary “cooling down” from the action type game.

Wrong about Marvel Heroes

MarvelHeroes2015 2015-04-20 21-57-03-00 Another game that I have recently picked up that I am more than willing to admit I was wrong about is Marvel Heroes.  I have avoided this game like the plague because of a whole slew of reasons.  Firstly at its core it is a Diablo clone and while there is nothing wrong with that…  click to move and attack games and I generally do not get along that well.  Thanks to League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm I have learned to tolerate them… but my preferred means of control will always be WASD.  Secondly everything surrounding this game gave the impression that it was a free to play money grab of the worst type.  I played a tiny bit of this game in beta and was not terribly excited about any of the heroes I was able to play, so I filed this away in the “not for me” bin as well.  The thing is over time I have continued to watch people I know and love and respect playing this game as seriously as they have played any traditional MMO.  When I see something like this I start to wonder, what are they seeing it in that I am not.  I’ve had these same feelings surrounding games that I just did not previously understand like Guild Wars 2, and after finally hitting my stride in that game I figured I might as well give Heroes a shot too.

Sunday I ended up playing this game for awhile, and wound up playing it for I think five hours without really meaning to.  I feel like the piece of the equation that I was missing to really enjoy it, comes from the fact that I did not even realize I was in need of that Super Hero MMO fix.  I happily played City of Heroes for about six months before moving on to World of Warcraft.  When Champions Online launched I was extremely excited about that game…  until the first patch wound up killing the combination of abilities I wanted to play with.  With the launch of DC Universe Online that was yet another game I really enjoyed, but struggled to get traction in for reason I still don’t know to this day.  Marvel Super Heroes seems to be just a bout the right amount of depth for me to consume as far as super hero content goes, and the ability to swap between heroes freely helps significantly.  Right now I am focusing on Captain America but by the same token I have gotten rather fond of Gambit and Deadpool.  All of which I really want to play more of, and ultimately this seems like the perfect sort of game to play downstairs on my laptop while watching television and movies.  In fact I am hoping to do just that this weekend, and see what mischief I can get into with my shield bashing self.

Dances with Fish

A Good Insanity

greysky_thirdplace So this happened yesterday… and I am completely floored by it.  Firstly I thought last weeks 6th place was pure insanity, but to see us jump to third place in guild activity in a weeks time is just surreal.  For those wondering this is gauge is based on guild activity, or moreso the guild going out into the world and doing stuff.  This means we are leveling, crafting, doing fates, running dungeons, in apparently huge portions.  But to think we are the third most active guild on the server just seems so strange.  Anecdotally I did notice a few weeks back that regardless of what crystal I teleported to, there seemed to be some [GREY] members nearby so I knew we were getting pretty huge, but I guess this simply quantifies that.

The thing is I still feel like this has very little to do with me, and more to do with getting a critical mass of people in the same place for a long period of time.  We have been growing extremely fast, but at the same time very organically.  I invite someone, who has fun and invites their friends… and then they go off and want to invite their friends and so forth.  This all just seems to have snowballed into the amazing situation that we currently have on Cactuar.  It is a combination of a great game with great people, and the end product is this upwelling of awesome.  Last night Tam our fearless leader ran some numbers.  We currently have 135 members of Greysky Armada, and of those 89 have been online within the last two weeks…  and even more impressively 63 had been online in the last 24 hours.  We have a really huge active population of players… and it is pretty damned awesome.

Turn Five Revisited

ffxiv 2015-04-13 21-14-39-12 We have been struggling a bit to get our turn nine ship righted, as it seems each week we have been down some people required to make that happen.  Last night we opted that rather than standing around waiting and hoping for an 8th to show up… that we would do something more proactive and key another guild member by running them through turn five.  I still find t5 an extremely enjoyable fight, and it was a little challenging given that some of us were playing different roles.  We had to give up Kodra’s insane dps in favor of him picking up the mantle of the Paladin tank.  He did a great job at interpreting all the random commentary I said by not really understanding fully the job that Ashgar does on a regular basis.  Ash just takes care of so many details that it took us a bit to replicate all of them with someone else.  The funny thing is at this point in our gear level… the dive bomb phase seems to be far more forgivable.  I think we managed to defeat the turn on the 5th or 6th try…  but most of the attempts were really us trying to adjust to the twister phase.

ffxiv 2015-04-13 22-48-09-34 While the first coil is not exactly a great way to get people gear, they do have some nice looking items in there.  Last night I managed to get some achievement for defeating turn five multiple times in a row.  Ashgar has always been super awesome about letting me pick up the various pieces of plate gear that drop in there because I liked the look of it.  After the raid last night I went rifling through my inventory and realized that I had all of the cosmetic slots.  As such I opted to pick up a brand new glamour to show off my Heavy Allagan gear.  Now the weapon from t5 doesn’t really go with this set of gear, so I opted to use the 110 weapon instead.  I am sure I will get tired of it eventually, or I will complete some other set of gear that I want to use…  but for the time being I am pretty happy with looking like I spent a lot of time grinding the early coils.

Dances with Fish

ffxiv 2015-04-13 21-45-59-44 We took long enough last night to defeat turn five that we didn’t really have enough time to start in on turn nine.  Instead we opted to set our sights on the  lord of the whorl, Leviathan extreme.  We had made attempts on this in the past but struggled a bit at the time, so never really came back and revisited it.  However in the meantime I have run a lot of Leviathan hard mode for various guild members as they needed it for their storyline.  Each time I have pretended that I was doing it on extreme, and have gotten significantly better at avoiding “stuff”.  The challenge for extreme mode is that during the middle of the fight Leviathan knocks the barriers off the platform you are fighting him from.  This means that if you are not careful and do not adjust to his deck slams… you will slide directly off the platform and into the water… where you will be unrecoverable just like on Titan.  All of this pretending to not have rails seems to actually have made the real thing significantly easier, because for the most part we were not dying to folks sliding off the platform.

On our best attempt we managed to get Leviathan down to 24% and largely we were dying to either insane amounts of damage…  or the horrible add that fears players off the platform.  Mostly the timing of the stuns is a bit odd there, and Kodra was doing this for the first time.  After looking at a quick guide this morning it looks like we need to start stun locking that add around 70% health.  Essentially if you see a castbar at all.. it is apparently already too late.  There will be nothing you can do to stop the fear effects from going off.  I feel like on this fight I have the easy job which is just soak up a lot of damage and be ready with cooldowns if it looks like I am taking a burst of damage.  The offtank does pretty much everything else… stun the adds, pick up the adds, tank the four blue balls of doom etc.  Thought I feel like given a solid night of attempts that were not abbreviated… we can totally do this fight.

Foundation of Folks

Statistics Funk

One of the problems with creating content is every now and then you will have something that you are very proud of, but the community doesn’t seem to be all that interested in.  That is not to say that I am not proud of most of the things I am involved in.  I love what this blog has become, and I love AggroChat…   but that seems to be less about me and more about the group dynamic that we have assembled.  However I feel like “Bel Folks Stuff” was one of those projects that I poured more of myself into than most.  The idea was that I would grab interesting people and have natural conversations with them where we discussed whatever happened to be on their mind.  I feel like for the most part that mission has succeeded, and I am very proud of the six episodes we have so far.  In the episodes I have talked with:

  1. Gypsy Syl
  2. Rowanblaze and Sctrz
  3. Alternative Chat
  4. Petter Mårtensson
  5. Qelric
  6. Liore

Unfortunately after the release of the latest episode I did that thing you are never supposed to do… I did a deep dive into the statistics.  In many ways this secondary podcast has been a labor of love, and right now it gets several orders of magnitude fewer listeners than AggroChat.  So I question…  what I did wrong with it?  Maybe I have simply done a poor job of advertising it?  It isn’t part of The Gaming and Entertainment Network so that right there is one strike against it.  I release them with questionable regularity, which is another strike against it.  I also question whether or not it was a good idea to treat it as separate from the other things that I do.  I have wondered for awhile if I should have just released it as part of the AggroChat content stream.. as a sort of bonus episode or something.  In any case… since looking at the stats I am exceedingly bummed about the limited audience.  Maybe there just is not the appetite for listening to gamers rattle on?  Anyways… this isn’t going to necessarily stop me from making more but I also feel like my guests have been awesome in their willingness to do the show…  when there really isn’t much benefit from it.

Foundation of Folks

For some time now, I’ve had various people tell me that I use exercise any connections I have within the games industry to turn the “Folks” podcast into an industry interview show.  I suppose I could do that, but the problem is I am afraid that would fundamentally change the nature of the show.  It might be idealistic, but I wanted to create a show without pretense about its purpose.  I wanted to have people on and just talk, and whatever topics we happened to cover naturally is what we would end up talking about.  If I have people on the show that are known for this or that, there is the pressure to ask them about what they are famous for.  By the same token, I would feel obligated to give them time to plug whatever hot project they happen to be working on.  At that point we have a traditional interview show and not what I was hoping for.  Maybe it is strange but I was hoping to have authentic conversation with a bunch of people, and almost forget for a time that we were recording the conversation.

I guess I question if I could talk “industry” folks into that sort of notion.  So far the people I have had on the show I have a deep connection with already.  These are people that I have gamed with, blogged with, or exchanged more tweets than I can count.  Right now it feels like I am just having a conversation with a friend.  I worry that I cannot keep up that dynamic with people I am not quite so personally invested in.  Then there is the problem of how would I even sell this notion to someone, when I obviously cannot guarantee much in the way of listeners.  That is the obvious sell for most big podcasts… is “talk to me and I can give you X number of ears”.  I don’t have that going for me on any level.  So yeah right now I am in this existential funk about “Bel Folks Stuff” and even though I love doing it… I am questioning if it is worth the scheduling headaches and the extra work on my part to keep it up.  I want to keep it up, but damn…  just bummed.

Second Static

ffxiv 2015-04-05 19-27-29-95 Last night when I got home… I was wallowing in my frustration over the podcast…  so much so that I forgot that last night was to be the inaugural running of the second static group within the Free Company.  The guild has been insane, and we are apparently so active and so prevalent that we jumped from 16th to 6th in the FFXIV free company activity standings.  I will say for some time there has not been a single city I have been in that I did not at least bump into one person with the [GREY] tag.  In order to help get the second static off the ground, myself and Kodra has offered to fill in as whatever role they needed us in.  I ended up main tanking to Damai’s off tank as we managed to work through several content items.  So while I started the evening in a bit of a malaise I finished it pumped about the prospects of having two active static teams within our free company.

We started off with Garuda Extreme, which I know very well…  just not well enough to explain adequately apparently.  This always seems to be a thing for me… I can do something, but I can’t necessarily tell you how to do it.  For awhile we tried using the Duty Finder to fill our missing slots, but honestly had significantly more luck creating a party in the Party Finder.  We met a few nice people on the server as well.  We managed to clear Turn 1 and Turn 4 of Binding Coil of Bahamut as well.  I was pleased that we one shot 4, since I remember having a significant amount of trouble with it initially when Ashgar and I tanked it.  To add to the confusion for the sake of this arrangement… the roles were flipped from what I am most used to.  The positive is… I feel like I could actually farm four over and over in an attempt to get my bear mount.  I need to figure out which piece of high allagan I am missing so I can focus down those.  I would really love to wear that full set of gear.  Anyways the end of the evening was definitely better than the day, so I am thankful that I have such an awesome group of people to spend my game time with.

Rotund Buddy

AggroChat 51 – Awesome Outfits

Last night was a bit of an odd showing because for various reasons and the majority of the week it looked like it would be the Ashgar and Belghast show.  However some timing worked out well and we managed to talk our good friend Thalen into joining the fun.  Thalen is one of those people that I have known in some context for over a decade.  While he didn’t raid with us in LNR, he had connections to our raid through mutual friends and we spent a lot of time conversing with his raid Last Horse that Warenwolf also came from.  Post Vanilla he has been a pretty permanent fixture of any guild I have been part of, and for the late BC early Wrath era we together with a few others representing the founders of the Duranub Raiding Company.  Needless to say Thalen is one of those people that has always been in my life in one form or another for a very long time.

We had this strange meandering show last night where in truth none of us had really been playing much of anything super exciting.  We dove into a few odd topics like World of Warcraft making some bad calls with Warlords of Draenor, and how important it is for us to look awesome when we are playing games.  We talk about some of the lengths we have gone to in order to track down cosmetic gear.  As far as games discussed we talk Dungeons and Dragons, Mega Man ZX,. Shin Megami Tensei IV, Persona 4 Golden, Axiom Verge, and a little Darkest Dungeon.  We like always talk a lot about Final Fantasy XIV and what we have been up to there.  Thalen has now leapt ahead of me in the classes to 50 race… with six to my five.  However he did make a smarter call then I did with leveling Arcanist which essentially gets you both Scholar and Summoner.  I think if I can ever get my Arcanist to 30 I will be set, since I can queue as a healer from that point on.

Rotund Buddy

ffxiv 2015-04-04 10-22-21-38 Yesterday I decided spend a bit more of my winnings from the Golden Saucer.  The first 8000 mgp I earned went towards buying the ponytail upgrade for the Aesthetician.  After that I was not quite certain what I should pick up.  I have been going back and forth on buying the blood sword for some time, simply because it is freaking awesome looking.  The problem is I am not sure if I have a decent looking shield to go with it…  and I really don’t spend that much time tanking on my Paladin other than very low level content.  It seemed like it might end up being a waste of 10,000 mgp.  Instead I decided to go with something that would make me happy all the time.  I ended up grabbing the “Heavy Hatchling” minion, which is adorably waddle-y fat.  It sits there barely staying upright and every so often almost looses its balance as it sniffs around looking for food.

The best part about the pet is that it doesn’t run around like a normal minion.  Instead it hops around on its butt.  I seriously was easily amused for a good ten minutes after getting it running circles in the Gold Saucer.  Most people I know have been working on saving the cash to get the Setzer jacket, which is cool…  but I was never much of a fan of Setzer in Final Fantasy VI to be honest.  He was a means to an end for me… he had the worlds only Airship… and I needed an Airship.  He never actually got any play other than those few times when you absolutely had to use every single character you had gotten.  The jacket is just too flamboyant for my tastes…  I think I prefer a dyed version of Snow’s jacket better for most cosmetic outfits.  Anyways I guess the next 10,000 mgp I end up with I will finally go ahead and pick up that blood sword.

Coil Revisited

ffxiv 2015-04-04 19-34-54-56 Last night we decided to take a bunch of the new 50s into the Binding Coil of Bahamut to do turns one through four.  It many ways it felt like coming home, because it had been so long since we last did any of the content.  I managed to pick up another piece of the High Allagan plate armor, which was pretty awesome.  We had a bit of a stumbling block on coil turn 2, in part because we collapsed to early on the first attempt.  On attempt two we pushed through without much issue.  I was pleasantly surprised that we oneshot turn four, since I remember us having some issue with it.  Since we were doing so well we opted to go ahead and push into Turn 5, so that the new recruits could see the difference.  Unless you have experienced it… you cannot fully appreciate how much the content drops the bottom out on you when you get into turn 5.  I got all sorts of warm fuzzies though walking in because our experience of learning turn 5 was so enjoyable for me.

All in all the group did admirably, and we managed to make it to the dive bomb phase several times.  Admittedly we had myself, Ashgar and Cylladora that had been there numerous times…  but they picked up and learned the fight extremely quickly all things considered.  At the very least they made progress in a single night that took us several weeks.  I hope we can go back there with the same group and get them all through turn 5.  I have a feeling this is going to be a somewhat regular occurrence since you need turn 5 to unlock the second coil of Bahamut.  In other news… I am really hoping that we make some serious progress on the fourth phase of Turn 9 this Monday.  I am so ready to defeat that encounter so we can move forward into the Final Coil of Bahamut.  At this point we have a few months before Heavensward, and it is probably hoping for too much… but I would really love to defeat the Final Coil before the expansion lands.

We Like To Help

Reluctant Roulette

ffxiv 2015-03-04 23-21-10-21 I thought I would take a few moments this morning to address a few things we are noticing among new recruits to our Free Company.  I believe for the most part the majority of this group reads my blog at least sometimes, so here is hoping that my post will find it’s audience.  If nothing else this serves as a good reminder to anyone new to Final Fantasy XIV or considering playing it.  The first behavior I am seeing an awful lot of is an absolute reluctance to EVER use the Duty Roulette system at all.  It seems like most of the players have come from several years in World of Warcraft, where “pugging” has become a dirty word.  I fully understand this and quite honestly I was scared to use the Duty Roulette system…  that is until another FC mate tiptoed into the water and reported back that it was actually pretty awesome.  I dislike random groups in other games more than most people, and I will be the first to say that the community in this game is simply better.

The other thing you should know is that those of us who are veterans are using the Duty Roulette system constantly.  On a given night if nothing much is going on I will be queuing for either Hard Mode or Trial Roulette, and at least once a day I am trying really hard to get in at least one Expert Roulette.  Sure you occasionally stumble onto an elitist, but it is nothing like other games where you are belittled and kicked from the group for not instantly being amazing.  More often than not when a player says they are new, someone will take the time to explain the encounters to them.  Honestly I often give my player commendations to new players for having the strength to stand up and tell the group.  It makes the run go so much smoother when you know for certain if a player is going to have the requisite ancestral knowledge to understand the common way a given fight is done.  More than anything I suggest you give Duty Roulette a chance.  I’ve actually met several people on Cactuar through the roulette system, and it makes me happy to see them around.

We Like to Help

ffxiv 2015-03-16 19-51-20-83 One of the other behaviors I am seeing a lot of is players not asking for help.  I realize that in some groups this might not be the norm, but in our Free Company for the most part people enjoy helping others.  Now there might be times for this or that reason that someone cannot help, and that is perfectly fine.  However if we don’t know a given player needs something, it is impossible for us to read minds.  Our hope is that this creates an atmosphere where people are freely saying what they need to do, and others  are responding that they can help out.  A prime example is that we have known for a bit that Neph needed Dzemael Darkhold, so when she popped on the other night we ran the dungeon to make sure she got it.  Similarly we have done countless primal fights or lower level dungeons to help our dps players especially fight their way through the queue system.  Self service and the Duty Roulette are always valid choices, but when you are confronting a thirty minute long queue…  please speak up and pending it is not a raid night folks should be able to pull together a dungeon pretty easily.

Running dungeons in Final Fantasy XIV is not quite like running dungeons in other games.  The fact that the game auto scales your level to match the dungeon, and rewards you with money if you are max level…  means that running lowbies through dungeons is always a positive prospect.  In other game my primarily problem with running low level dungeons was that it ended up feeling like I was babysitting players, because at max level I could just one shot most of the encounters in the zone.  In Final Fantasy XIV, these dungeons are still viable, and it feels like you are doing something meaningful regardless of the level range.  I will never get tired of running places like Haukke Manor or Stone Vigil, and Primal fights like Garuda still end up being a challenge for our scaled down groups.  It is interesting trying to remember how you functioned without your high level abilities, and this alone makes a lot of things far more interesting than you might think.  So please if you need help, be it a dungeon or help with some crafted gear…  speak up in chat.  Right now Tam is doing an interesting census of players to find out if they are interested in raiding, so I highly suggest you fill that out from the guild message of the day.

A Night with Nael

ffxiv 2015-03-23 20-28-37-77 Last night was a bit of a refresher night in many ways.  Namely we had a few people out, which meant we snagged one of our new recruits to help out with turn nine.  The problem is our group does things a bit different than the “norm” for turn nine groups.  So there was a bit of adjustment, similarly it had been over a week since I last set foot in the zone, and I was more than a tad bit rusty myself.  I still feel like we made some progress, but we are hitting this wall on the third phase where we are just not pushing Nael hard enough to keep from getting two dragons.  In our attempt to push harder, we are getting this awkward transition to phase four and getting a dragon at the same time…  which is leading to a wipe.  I feel like I am simply not doing enough dps on my Dragoon to really make up the difference.  My tank is level 122 gear wise, but my dragoon is only 112.  Honestly I never expected to be dpsing in a raid situation, so my Dragoon has essentially gotten table scraps as far as gear goes.  I have been pushing to grab a piece of 120 gear our of World of Darkness each week in the hopes of boosting my dragoon dps just a little bit.

This however means repeating World of Darkness over and over without seeing any drops.  Last night represented my sixth and seventh run of the week, and thankfully on the final boss I saw a piece drop that I did not already have.  Sure it was only the belt, but at the 11th hour on the night before reset…  I will take quite literally anything.  I was just about to reach the point where I was going to start rolling on everything just to get a piece of gear before the zone reset today.  Largely I feel like I am being a boat anchor on our group with this fight.  We need more dps, and I am just not going to the extreme lengths that Kodra is willing to to tweak his dps.  The optimal dragoon rotation is twenty seven steps long according to the guides I have read… and quite frankly there is no way in hell I am going to be able to pull that off flawlessly every single time.  Instead I do a much more simplified and repeated sequence, but when we are on this razors edge of being able to do it versus not being able to do it… it feels like I am failing the group.  As such my answer is to try and pour gear into the problem, and as soon as World of Darkness uncaps on the 31st I will be running it until my eyes bleed farming a full set of gear.

Turn 9 Progress

Mining Delays

ffxiv 2015-03-09 06-05-17-02 Last night I had every intention to come right home from work and start mining like a boss.  I made an oven pizza, fixed my plate and was all set to catch up on the last few episodes of Star Wars Rebels while mashing buttons to break rocks.  However upon logging into the game I instantly had a group invite waiting from Tam, which generally means I am needed to go run something.  Turns out last night I got drafted to tank a random expert roulette.  Granted I had been capped on poetics for awhile at that point, seeing as I capped out sometime Saturday morning during the Pax East live stream.  However I know my FC Mates were not quite there yet, and Ashgar needed a random expert for his alexandrite map.  So I swapped back into my tanking gear and ran through Amdapor Keep Hard, which went pretty smoothly all things considered.

I kept trying to get back into mining last night but one thing or another kept sidetracking me.  I started the evening at 44 and ended the evening at 47 which I guess isn’t too horrible all things considered, especially when I put in as little actual mining time as I did.  This is why I tend to progress poorly through crafting content.  If presented the option of smashing monsters in the face, I will always take that option.  So over the course of the night I did an expert roulette, a random S Rank hunt, a treasure map…  all to avoid going back to the mining grind.  I will likely put in some effort on it this evening before my WoW raid, but I doubt I will hit 50 just yet.  Hopefully at the least on Wednesday I can wrap that up and start work on the next profession.

Turn 9 Progress

ffxiv 2015-03-02 20-18-37-90

Last night was my second night of work on Turn 9 of the Binding Coil of Bahamut, or more correctly the final turn of the Second Coil of Bahamut.  I spent significantly less amount time derping it up this week, and we spent more time kicking ass and taking names.  When we last played we were unable to get through the meteor phase reliably.  We were attempting the “roulette” method of everyone bunching up and then the group running around the circle each time someone gets a meteor.  This method requires the group to run together, and then stop at certain points until the next meteor spawns in.  The person who just got the last meteor has to cut across the circle to catch up to the party again.  For me at least it felt like pure chaos and while we managed to get through the phase once or twice doing this… it never felt like something that was terribly repeatable.

This week we threw  the suggested rules out the window and actually started to pull together that phase of the fight.  Instead of grouping up, we all spread out along the outer ring of the room.  As a meteor would drop, that player would run to another person and group up, essentially slowly dropping the rocks around the outside of the room equally spaced.  It probably seems a lot more chaotic to watch, but for us it felt far more controlled as it gave time for folks to get off a few heals during this phase.  Towards the end of the night we were able to consistently nail the meteor phase and get into phase three proper.  Now we need to learn this phase, because right now without really knowing the pattern fully… it feels insane.  My hope is if we can keep learning a phase a week we will down it shortly.  I am really enjoying turn nine, because it feels awesome when we a nail super difficult phase.

Playing Big Kid

ffxiv 2015-03-09 22-31-51-81 We performed admirably in turn nine considering that for the most part our entire raid felt out of it for one reason or another.  In fact due to the daylight savings time crap, we considered even maybe trying something a bit easier.  However once the heat of battle started, we managed to wake up and pull things together.  However those first few pulls were rather questionable.  After getting out of the dungeon I returned to mining for a bit, and had just finished a level when my friend Cuppy logged in.  A few weeks back I had to halt an intended run of Sastasha because it was going to cut into raid time, and felt pretty horrible for having to do it.  It turns out she pugged it and was now ready for Tam Tara Deepcroft, so no matter what my plans were I was totally down with running it with her.  So I put on my Paladin outfit, and like always we had a number of volunteers ready to help out.

The final mix ended up being Cuppy on her Arcanist, me on my Paladin, Thalen on his White Mage, and Kodra barding it up.  Like most low level dungeons it went extremely smoothly, but we took our time making sure to kill every last monster in the place for the maximum amount of experience.  The only time I seem to find myself playing a paladin is when doing older content, because it seems significantly easier to tank with a paladin.  Namely I find myself constantly teetering on the edge of not having any TP when I am playing my Warrior, whereas on the paladin I can just keep flashing and power through the place.   If in an absolute worse case scenario I run out of MP, I could always resort to riot blade.  Sadly however nothing of use dropped for Cuppy, so I have a feeling we will be running that place some more.  The Acolyte’s set is amazing, and will hold a player until they are somewhere in their mid 20s.  Doing piddly little dungeon runs like this really make me happy, and make me feel more connected with my free company, so it was an excellent way to close the evening.

Melusine Down

I’m an Adjective?

There are just some days that it hits me how surreal my life can be.  I seem to be having one of those days.  I talked a bit about being called a “Cult Leader” last night, but apparently somewhere along the line I have become an adjective as well?  If I would say I am most known for anything it would be that I blog each and every morning regardless if I have anything of any real gravity to talk about.  If you follow Jaedia and Simcha you would have found out that this is apparently now termed the “Bel Method” because both of them have been dabbling with it of late.  I didn’t even know I had a method to be honest…  I just do this thing that involves blogging before I am actually awake.  I am pretty sure people were rambling aimlessly long before I showed up, and will continue to do it long after I am gone.  Though I do admit I got a great chuckle when I read that I have transcended humanity and now have become a “thing”.

Which makes it all the more humorous when the other day, I was mentioned in a conversation I was not really even participating in yet.  My good friend Fynralyl mentioned on twitter that she was downloading Final Fantasy XIV, and before I even had a chance another friend… who is not even playing the game chimed in with our server information.  To make it even more humorous Sigtric said the above quote, that the “#BelEffect” was going on.  I am now an effect?  I mean I realize my penchant for gathering people up and trying to get them all in the same place is rather notorious…  but has it really become an effect to be monitored?  Like I said before… it is really surreal to be referred to in adjective form.  I am attempting to take it all in stride, as a sign of affection…  but it is supremely strange.  Now I am oddly cautious to see what other characteristic I have becomes a “thing”, is my traditional “Hey Folks” greeting now going to become canonized as well?

Melusine Down

ffxiv 2015-02-09 21-34-13-41 Last night was of course our regularly scheduled raid night in Final Fantasy XIV.  We unfortunately are starting to have a good problem happen… that quite often on Monday nights we have more than enough people to do our eight man.  As a result since Paragon missed the last one, Cav offered to sit out and with that we zoned into Turn 7 of the Binding Coil of Bahamut.  This was our second week of attempts on this encounter, and last week we managed to figure out most of the bits so it was just down to refinement and polish.  We were teaching Paragon the fight from scratch, but he was a pretty quick study and before long we were back to where we left off last week.  This fight is largely about managing adds, either in the form of the Renauds that need to be frozen with cursed voice or the Lamias that need to be burned down as soon as possible to lower overall raid damage.  On top of all of these things…  there is just a phenomenal amount of damage going out.  There were so many times I was praying for my next cooldown so that I could survive just a little bit longer.

The turning point in our fight was honestly when we wiped because all of the Renaud that were frozen woke up at the same time.  Prior to that the attempt was extremely smooth, and then we watched as the giants ran around wiping the raid.  From that point on we started trying to manage just how many of them we had up at a once, and I started trying to do a better job of centering myself with the wall of them.  These two tweaks lead to me getting frozen significantly less, and the wall of adds being more manageable as a whole.  It was I believe one attempt after we started this strategy that we managed to get her down, and clear Turn 7 of the Binding Coil of Bahamut.  Once again Ashgar remembered to tell folks to pose before we opened the chests, and I am super glad that he did… because this really is the best kill shot yet.  I remembered to be centered in the photo rather than on one of the edges.  We went into Turn 8 shortly after and only stayed long enough to get an idea of how the room works.  Hopefully we can all watch some videos this week and make a good solid attempt next.

I Hate Oregorger

Yesterday I stumbled onto a blog post over on AskMrRobot showing how wipes on Oregorger compare to the raids average ilevel.  I know we are still fairly low ilevel wise as a raid, I personally am only around 660 because we jumped straight from 7/7 normal and 5/7 heroic to doing normal mode Blackrock Foundry.  I am wondering if that is the answer to dealing with the bullshit randomness of his hunger phase is to simply out gear it.  Last Thursday when we were doing attempts on Oregorger we were following the exact pattern that everyone agrees upon is the best way to beat the fight.  In fact multiple times during the night we stopped, rewatched videos to double check that we were not doing anything wrong… and still we kept dying to the damage of the phase.  Either we were not fast enough on killing the crates, or simply lacked the gear to soak the damage.  In any case the charge above would seem to agree that maybe Oregorger is simply a “gearing” thing.  Had we entered Blackrock wearing full heroic gear… maybe it just would not have even been an issue.

In any case my hope is that by some sheer miracle of luck that we can down him because I want so bad to have this fight on farm status.  I feel like both Gruul and the Hans’gar/Franzor encounter are likely on farm status after last week.  I am wondering if there is something else that is low hanging fruit we can pick up while waiting on our gear level to raise before wrecking Oregorger.  From what I understand the other boss we can try is Beastlord Darmac since Blackrock Foundry employs a “wing” strategy to its layout.  Whatever we end up doing, I am looking forward to getting in tonight and smashing more Iron Horde faces.  While much of the shiny of this expansion has faded for me, I am finding that  the raiding is keeping me engaged and interested.  While I may only be logging in to fiddle with my Garrison on nights other than the raid…  I am still very much enjoying each and every boss fight.

Angriest Red Ball Revisited

Bridge Refresher Course

ffxiv 2014-11-24 21-04-25-83 With all my recent posts about World of Warcraft, you would think that I had switched allegiance entirely, but this is not the truth by any means.  Right now it is new and shiny and  I am attempting to claw my way to a reasonable foothold of raid preparedness.  That said I am still very much playing Final Fantasy XIV, and for the last few weeks we have been pulling together “raid” content on Monday nights.  We really want to see the new Ultros fight, but unfortunately Thalen still had yet to do Battle at Big Bridge, so last night we started the evening off knocking that out of the way.  It made a rather nice high point to start the evening on since that fight is so amazing.  The majority of us are Final Fantasy V fans, so seeing the fight is like watching the bridge fight play out in that game.

The strange thing is that as many times as we had run it, I had never actually tanked it.  Not that there is actually anything to tanking the fight.  For the tank at least it is as tank and spank as they really come in Final Fantasy XIV.  The only challenge was the various adds between the two phases of the boss, and even then it is was only because we have some extremely overgeared dps for the fight that just melted them.  While I attempted to hold aggro it was pretty much futile.  In any case it knocked that out of the way so that hopefully this week the folks that needed it can catch up on the Hildebrand storyline and get ready for Ultros.  I would really rather do that fight for the first time as a guild, so we can have the experience of figuring out the content on the fly.

Angriest Red Ball Revisited

ffxiv 2014-11-24 21-48-02-32 Turn Five of Binding Coil of Bahamut has been looming over our group for some time.  I have to admit there has been a sense of fear about it, because in truth it has been content than killed many a static raid team on our server.  It is the notorious gatekeeper to turn 2, and there are many folks that have cleared one through four never to actually manage to get in a turn five kill.  The fight itself just has this insane array of mechanics that are almost impossible to memorize before going into the fight.  Since it had been months for us clearing the first four turns we opted to start with those as a fresher course.  Overall it went nice and smooth and we burned through the first few coil instances getting the folks who had not been there realm exploration achievements.  I managed to get the Heavy Allagan chestpiece to go with my other two pieces of Allagan gear.

ffxiv 2014-11-24 22-44-02-14 When we downed turn four after a few baubles here and there we decided to use that momentum and push us forward into a couple of attempts at Twintainia the boss of turn five.  There is a lot of stuff to focus on during this fight.  However we did manage to get to roughly the halfway point in the fight after a couple of attempts.  I mark this as pretty damned good progress, and a pretty good night overall for us to down Big Bridge, four turns of coil and make that much progress on five.  I feel like as a whole we have way more confidence in regards to our success chances at turn five.  It is no longer this looming and scary target that we have not actually experienced.  Folks talk about it with so much frustration and reverence, but I feel like we can totally down  this.  Now after seeing the fight I also feel like I have a far better point of reference for doing my own research in the coming week.

Up Too Late

Wow-64 2014-11-25 00-14-27-80 After our evening of raiding in Final Fantasy XIV, I popped out and got into World of Warcraft in an attempt to find a group to run Auchindoun with.  Much like there was a legendary cloak chain in Pandaria, there is a legendary ring one in Warlords.  The first phase is actually relatively simple and only actually requires that you run Skyreach and loot and item off the final boss.  This nets the player a really nice ilevel 640 ring for there troubles, which is a much needed gear level boost for getting into content.  The next steps require you to clear four heroic dungeons, gather up a silly amount of apexis crystals and then complete a solo event of sorts.  Last night I was up to the final step in this sequence which requires a trip into Auchindoun to loot an item off the final boss.  However there was another player that required one more “core” the step before Auchindoun, so I agreed to run that heroic first before we ran the one I actually needed so that both of us knocked out the final step at the same time.

The end result was that I ran two heroics back to back and did not actually make it to bed until almost 1 am.  The other result however is that other than 100 apexis crystals and a solo event, I am really super close to the next step in the ring quest chain.  As a result in theory I should be able to knock out the 680 ring before we step foot into Molten Core as a guild tonight.  I am really looking at venturing forth into Molten Core, it has been years since I last experienced the raid “for real”.  I remember there was a time where a “good clear” took about three hours of my life.  I am hoping we can manage to do it in a far shorter time.  That said I have prepared myself for the potential of it taking that long if not longer.  I know we are going to try and go into it with as many tanks and healers as we can so that we can potentially control the pace of the run.  If everyone other than a handful of dps are with us on voice chat… hopefully things will go more smoothly.  In any case hopefully at the end of the night I will have a spiffy mount.

Furry Children

I’ve always had a soft spot for animals.  In this age of global strife and suffering, I’ve become rather accustomed to it… but the moment that Sarah MacLachlan animal charity video plays on  the television… and it is like a sucker punch to the gut.  There has never been a time when we have not had several furry children, and each of them is unique and special.  This morning I am thankful for all of them that have shared our life.  Presently we have four cats, which I think officially qualifies us for “crazy cat lady” status.  Our eldest came home with me years ago on a Thanksgiving day, so this time of year is all the more important to me.  She is getting up there in age and has many issues but I am so thankful for each year we have with her.  In addition to our cats we also have two amazing ferrets, that are both as sweet as can be and are always clamoring for our attention.  They both know exactly what it takes to get daddy to play with them, and they are the source of many delays while getting ready in the morning.  Animals enrich our lives in ways that I cannot fully account for, and this morning and every morning I am thankful to have them.