WoW Remix

Gamer Nature

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One of the things I have learned while playing Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn… is that any player from 11 or 14 classic… really hates it when a player compares the game to World of Warcraft.  I’ve seen so many of these “classic” players fill with so much rage the first time someone mentions WoW.  Yesterday I encountered a small bit of it outside of the game in a G+ thread where myself and another tank were giving an up and coming Gladiator some advice on how best to deal with multi-mob threat.

Best advise I have to you is: don’t expect this game to have "WoW equivalents." This isn’t WoW. It’s not a WoW clone. It’s not trying to be WoW. You’ll enjoy the game a lot more if you take it as it is, rather than forcing it to fit some molded preconception you have for it. You’re trying to fit a circle peg into a square hole.

WoW Remix

So I found the above comment rather puzzling.  Especially coming from where this game did… the new version while not a “WoW Clone” is at the very least a WoW Remix.  Almost every ability I have has some simulacrum in World of Warcraft.  For example I think of my Warrior as a mix between a Druid tank and a Deathknight tank.  While it is in fact a unique beast… I still refer to the process of tabbing through mobs and applying Butchers Block as “Tab Sunder”.  Everything ultimately gets referred to more often than not by the wow name for it.  I don’t teleport back to my home location… I hearth.

Since most of the active MMO gamer pool has a relatively short memory… this is the way it has always been.  Before WoW claimed the crown as the most popular MMO… each new release got referred to by the terms we used in Everquest.  Damaging yourself to get back mana… was referred to as “Twitching” or “Cading” in reference to the Necromancer or Shaman spells.  Any form of a speed boost was often referred to as “SoW”, I can remember hearing people call the various speed powers “SoW” in City of Heroes.  To some extent listening to the FFXI diehards talk in FFXIV ARR has been a trip down memory lane… because those players carried with them terms from EQ into XI like DD for direct damage.

Top Dog Sets Rules

Awhile back there was a thread somewhere asking what games you would suggest to new players… and quite honestly despite my sordid relationship with the game, I have to say I would always suggest that someone play at least SOME World of Warcraft.  In my own guild we have a few players who have never played the game, and as a result they miss the references that are made in guild chat and mumble all of the time.  Thing is… this is not just a thing my guild does, this is a thing EVERY guild does in EVERY new game.  World of Warcraft had its own vocabulary that was grown out of the lingo that we used in Everquest.  Essentially as that game eclipsed the other games, its ability names started to take the place of the previous ones that were used.

Today going into any MMO for the first year at least… every single thing in game is going to be referred to by its WoW equivalent.  So the fact that as a seasoned MMO player… I can find immediate and direct WoW equivalents makes me think that the above statement is a little naïve.  FFXIV very much has wow equivalents, just like every game since the rise of wow has… and every game after will as well.  It is the fact that a game becomes the market leader that determines who dictates the vocabulary, because essentially there is nothing new under the sun.  Everything we do in FFXIV also has a direct EQ vocabulary equivalent, as everything we see today is a remix of the things that came before it.  The comparisons will someday shift again, but only when a game has eclipsed the current leader.

Final Funk

Pull Resisted

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Last night I resisted the desire to re-up my World of Warcraft account… in part because I really did not feel like playing much of anything.  When I first logged in I popped into Hearthstone to see what the daily quest happened to be.  It was win two matches with a paladin or priest deck, neither of which I have even finished unlocking the basic cards for.  I made a valiant attempt at victory on a paladin, only to find out that practice victories did not count.  Essentially there is no way in hell right now that I could beat an actual player with either of those decks… even though priest seems to be pretty damned hax based on my regular loss record against them.

After that I popped into Rift for a few but could not seem to find the oomph to play that either.  Though since the shiny vault was backed up again, I figured I would at least take the time to pilfer through that and help relieve some of the stress.  I have been in these unknown funks before, but I am not sure what to do to kick myself out of this one.  Ultimately I ended up retiring to bed and playing Pokémon Y until my wife joined me some time later.

Final Funk

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I think in part my present funk is due to the fact that once again I have topped out another game and lack the drive to do much of anything further in it.  I am still very much enjoying the dungeons when we can pull those together, and I want to do more 8 man content especially now that we have a fresh 50 to run through it.  However I don’t have a single thing I really care to do in game the rest of the time.  So as a result I am simply not logging in.  I did the All Saints’ Wake and it was extremely disappointing and finished within like 10 minutes time or running errands throughout the various cities.

One of my game designers always brings up the “moment to moment” play, and I guess for me this is what is lacking in Final Fantasy.  After pushing my Warrior to 50 and then grinding up a Bard to 50 as well doing literally nothing but FATES… I find myself lacking the desire to do the FATE grind ever again.  Normally tradeskills is a thing that fills in the gaps, providing me some downtime between grinds.  However you can tell a tradeskill system is bad if I would far rather play the EQ2 mini-game crafting system than do anything within the FFXIV system.

Another huge thing that tarnishes my enjoyment of FFXIV is that like it or not… I am a bit of a loot whore.  At the very least much of my homicidal rage against monsters… is because I know they have a chance, albeit slim of dropping something amazing.  I like playing the loot pinata, and when a game has that sort of a loot system I can happily grind again at mobs never quite knowing what the next one will drop.  FFXIV on the other hand has absolutely no meaningful loot.  Mobs drop crafting items, and since I don’t really care about crafting…  there is absolutely zero excitement there.

So as I stand currently I am not playing the game much at all.  My friends have access to me via instant message, twitter, text message… so I figure if they need me to tank for them I am more accessible than most folks.  In the meantime I keep trying to figure out something that excites me to do in the time between dungeon runs.  My other friends seem to default to League of Legends, but quite frankly I don’t enjoy the game enough to ever queue with strangers.  So as a result I end up trying to resist the desire to re-up wow and playing quite a lot of Pokémon.

Halloween 2013

Spooky Pasta!

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One of the things I love in the various MMOs I play or have played… are the varried Holiday events.  Some of them make an extreme effort to fit them into the lore of their world, and others just cut and paste a real world tradition onto their land.  Both have their merits and both are enjoyable so long as they don’t involve too much grinding.  Each game seems to pick and choose holidays, but there are two that every game seems to have…  Christmas and of course Halloween.

Halloween time is generally my favorite holiday because the traditions itself usually involve killing lots of dark denizens of the night.  Additionally the playing dress up theme usually means some cool weapon and armor skins that you can use throughout the rest of the year.  Currently we are in the run up to Halloween itself, and as a result pretty much every MMO has some form of event going on marking the holiday.  Going to take a few minutes this morning to talk about some of the cooler ones.

Nights of the Dead

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This event runs in Everquest 2 from 10/15 through 11/11 and is probably the grand daddy of all Halloween events.  Each year they keep adding new content, but still leaving all of the old content in place.  Zam has a really great guide to the various quests and events.  If you are one of the new to EQ2 folks who just partook of the free level 85 event… I highly suggest checking it out.  However even with a brand new account you can still participate in most of the fun.  My personal favorite event is the hedge maze that drops lots of nifty cosmetic gear.

Blood and Madness

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Guild Wars 2 supposedly has a really amazing event called Blood and Madness that kicked off on October 15th that involved a series of limited time events (one day only) finally culminating in a big event that only exists Halloween night.  Dulfy has a pretty comprehensive guild to the events, but for the most part if you are not already doing this series you have missed out this year.  This has been my key bitch about Guild Wars 2 to date… I hate the concept of short run limited time events.  The amount of busy work needed really only allows someone who ONLY plays GW2 to keep up… and because of this I just can’t be bothered to attempt it.  I would love to see this as a long term event that ran the entire length of the holiday, but until then it will be out of my reach.

Autumn Harvest

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Rift has an event called Autumn Harvest that starts on October 17th and runs through Halloween and potentially a little bit past.  They have chosen to focus on the harvest aspect of the holiday and as such have sent you to a special version of the Realm of the Fae where you help Atrophinius and his minions bring in the amber sap harvest.  There are a ton of cool things you can get, including a phantom version of several popular mounts.  The coolest feature of the event however is that you can get these short time use potions that make tons of artifacts show up on the ground in the realm of the fae.  This is a huge catch up on collections event.  This year around there are a ton of new items to be gotten and you can check out this preview guide on Rift Junkies.

Hallow’s End

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Hallow’s End is an event that occurs in World of Warcraft from October 18th through November 1st.  There are tons of nifty things going on like trick or treating, but the meat and potatoes of the event is the Scarlet Monastery Headless Horseman instance.  I have a love/hate relationship with this holiday.  Every year it has been available (and that I have been playing wow) I have participated in the event… all for a shot at the extremely awesome flying headless horseman mount.  Every single year I have come up empty handed.  When a game company places an item in an event, like a mount… that is usable every day… and makes it a super rare random drop… I want to stab them.

All Saints’ Wake

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Currently there is an event going on over in FFXIV that is completely new to me.  All Saints’ Wake started a little early, but was intended to run from October 18th through November 1st.  All of the time zones get a little discombobulated in the translation.  While I am not partaken in the event yet, so far the other one I have seen has been what I would call “Holiday-Lite” in that there is a FATE going on that awards some sort of currency that you then use to purchase things off a vendor.  Since the vanity gear system is not in place yet, this makes the things you can acquire super limited, but I plan on gathering them up just in case.  One of the most humorous observations from last night is that apparently the Pumpkin helms… are repaired by Cullinarians.

The Rundown

That is the rundown of the big ones I know of that are going on, but like I said in the first part of the post… this is the one holiday that pretty much EVERY MMO celebrates.  I can even remember in Hellgate: London there being a Halloween event of sorts that took its form in a Guy Fawkes day celebration… that happened to have a lot of Halloween themed stuff.  I would be curious to hear about any events that are your favorite that I missed.

Subtle Tweaks

Fountains of Gil

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Last night was the first night I have played FFXIV seriously since getting Pokemon.  Well I suppose that is a bit of a misnomer as I was in game Tuesday night to help a guild member through the Garuda Primal… but suffice to say it was the first time I have really done something serious in a bit.  In that time they released a fairly significant patch to the server, and it was for most of us the first time experiencing the changes.  I have to say overall they are pretty positive.  You can see the full patch notes here, but I will talk about a few of the significant items.

One of my largest complaints, that I have mentioned a few times is that this game has absolutely tons of gold sinks… but no really viable gold fountains other than crafted high quality end game gear.  Even that has been dropping drastically as the best in slot HQ Robe of Vanya started out around 1.5 million gil and is now down to 400k gil on Cactuar.  The main problem is, that in our little group since hitting 50 each of our pools of gil has been falling severely with no real way of gaining it back at a reasonable rate.  Apparently Squeenix has heard our plea and implemented the strangest gold fountain I have ever seen in a game.

Apparently they did not like the fact that players were skipping trash packs in dungeons and doing “speed runs”, because when they put their fountain in it has in essence patched two holes in the boat.  In the level 50ish dungeons, the trash packs now drop a not insignificant amount of gil…  we were mostly seeing around 50 gil per mob.  This means that the dungeon as a whole is a really good way to gain back some of that cash we have been losing.  Over the course of the evening in running Amdapor Keep and Wanderers Palace once each I got around 6000 gil.  That is not enough to make me wealthy… but it is enough to stave off the slow bleed of currency.

Subtle Tweaks

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To make Wanderer’s Palace more appealing they have increased the number of “rockbooks” aka Tomestones that drop.  Between a running of Amdapor and Wanderer’s I had enough to go out and purchase the Darklight belt, so I was pretty pleased with that.  The trend continued last night with minor drops happening for our dps and healing, and not a single viable tank drop in sight.  In the first picture in the post you can see I have swapped out my “so you decided to hit 50” chest piece for one that dropped in Wanderers…  but sadly it was an exact side grade.  I just wanted to look slightly different for a bit, so I snagged it.

In one of the patch notes threads, we had seen the extremely ambiguous patch note of “adjusted difficulty of level 50 encounters”, which we all took to mean that they made things more difficult.  However upon running the two 50 4 man dungeons last night, it seemed like a lot of the fights were easier, or at least I was not taking nearly as much damage as before.  Granted this could be to a large number of factors, not the least of which is that we are all fairly used to the encounters now.  However it did feel like I was taking less raw damage than I was previously, especially on a few of the more troubling packs.

Goodbye Bullshit

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In the past I wrote about the absolute hackery that was the Dark Devices FATE in Northern Thanalan.  The FATE that essentially all players seemed to universally extend out as long as humanly possible to farm the constant flow of instant spawn cultists.  If you were in the right group, and you got a tag in on every mob you could get some truly amazing experience.  During one group we managed to get an over 300 chain of kills, and that FATE along was worth just over a half of a level a 48 when I was leveling my bard.  However if you were NOT in the chosen party… you got to waste 15 minutes of your time and next to no experience for the process.

I am proud to announce that they did in fact fix that bullshit.  Apparently now the cultists no longer instant spawn, and as a result there is no point in delaying the FATE.  So as a result I am imagining that FATEs in Northern Thanalan are now nice and smooth, as quite honestly OTHER than Dark Devices it was a rather enjoyable zone for grouping.  It is smallish in size but packed full of really high value fates including the really cool Chimera fate in the northern end of the zone that awards a pet.  Hopefully as a whole the experience of grinding from 45 to 50 is better for most players.  Our guild has just about determined that the best way to boost a player to 50 is to hang out in the zone and kill the various Garleans as fast as you can, rather than trying to FATE anyways.  We’ve helped a handful of folks get the last bit towards 50 doing this, and it seems like something that is easily repeatable.

End Game

Slowing Down

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For most of us in House Stalwart the wild ride that was the Final Fantasy XIV storyline has come to a conclusion.  As a result a large number of us have dialed back our playtime a bit to recover.  This is only magnified by the fact that the game that none of us may speak of is having yet another event and a large number of us are actively playing that.  The storyline was extremely exceptional and did everything I would expect in the ending of a classic final fantasy game.  However this time it left the door completely open.

It felt much like that first time you transitioned Legend of Zelda a Link to the Past into the Dark World.  It feels like we just scratched the surface of the game, which I guess is how the ending of the storyline content should feel in every MMO.  Lots of things are resolved, but very quickly you realize that nothing at all is truly resolved.  Now that we have spent all the storyline we are left with the fact that other than the wonderful story… the FFXIV experience is a rather skeletal one.

End Game

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Basically eight of us have entered the phase of the end game at this point… which is extremely limited.  Each step along the path has some pretty severe gear requirements, so what we have ahead of us is a large amount of running the same two dungeons over and over.  Basically you are given two paths forward for gear.  The first of which is running two 8 man dungeons that reward a lot of tomestones, but absolutely no gear…  or running two 4 man dungeons that drop gear but very few tomestones.  Neither option feels really good, considering for the time spent running Amdapor you really do not end up with much gear.  I’ve run it three times as a tank and have yet to see a single drop.

The real problem is the fact that each run through the dungeon racks up a not insignificant repair bill.  One of the big problems I have talked about before is the fact that there really is no good way to gain money at level 50.  I carried with me into the end game about 200,000 gil, and that has been going fast as I use it for various needed things at the maximum level.  The options I have before me are grinding fates which pay out around 200 gil each, grinding leves which pay out around 500 gil each…  and playing the auction house.  The problem with the auction house is that `the only thing worth anything really are high level crafted items.  Leveling your crafting however can bankrupt your character… so it is a bit of a catch 22.

Relic Weapon

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The goal of the game right now seems to be to get your relic weapon and later on your +1 upgrade to it.  This is the best item in the game you can get, but much like the Everquest Epic weapon it is a long and drawn out process.  To start down this path is a rather expensive one.  Firstly you have to acquire the base weapon, for a Warrior this is the Barbarian’s Bardiche.  This is crafted by a high level blacksmith and is gathered together out of bits that have to be farmed from a combination of dungeons and overworld zones.  They currently go for about 10,000 gil on the open market, and since I do not have access to a max level Blacksmith that is the option I chose to go with.  In my experience it costs far more than 10,000 gil to get a smith to create one for you.

From there you need to infuse 2 Battledance III materia onto the item.  This once again has to be done by a level 50 blacksmith… and the going rate per infuse on my server is 10,000 gil.  Acquiring the Battledance III materia is a whole other matter that is far more time consuming.  These are gained from disassembling level 45 or higher items that are 100% spiritbound.  The problem is… individual items can be disassembled into a wide variety of different materia.  I spiritbound a set of Mithril Plate gear, and did not manage to get a single Battledance III.  Ultimately I had a guild member give me one of them, and I bought the second on the open market for 15,000 gil.

So just to get to the point of turning in the infused axe I have already spent over 50,000 gil once you factor in the material costs of the infusions.  I apparently got off easily… for a Paladin or a Scholar apparently the costs are more like 100,000 gil.  From here it is a series of monsters that I have to take down, starting in Coerthas with the Chimera and ending with Hard Mode Titan.  All of which is rather honestly a pretty horrific grind, considering by the time you get to Hard Mode Titan, you damned well better be in full darklight gear, the set you get from the tomestones I talk about grinding out earlier.

Grind, Grind, Grind

Ultimately this is going to be the thing that kills the game for me if they do not introduce some less grindy paths.  Right now I have the option of grinding for money, grinding to level other classes or grinding out end game gear.  There is nothing left to do in the game that is anywhere near as enjoyable as the questing experience was.  At this point, the game is a really fun ride to 50, and then grind city afterwards.  I still greatly enjoy the dungeon runs, and I look forward to doing more of that, but that involves getting a large number of people online at the same time.  When there is not a full groups worth online, I am finding myself lacking in things I really want to do.

At this point I have leveled my Warrior to 50 and my Bard to 50…  but any additional characters involve lots and lots of either mob grinding or fate grinding and right now after having done it twice… that lacks any sort of luster.  So I find myself piddling around in other games waiting on enough of a critical mass to form in FFXIV that we can do some dungeons.  At this point I really lack interest in doing anything else in the game.  I think as time passes I will want to level other classes, but after having ground out two to 50, I need a bit of a break.  As a result I have been piddling around in League of Legends and finding myself pining away from my Hex invite.  FFXIV still has a ton of potential, but they really need to make some changes in 2.1 to make the game more livable.

Tonberry Tactics

Not Enough Coffee

This is one of those mornings when I feel like there is simply not enough coffee in the world to make me out of this stupor.  In part this is my own making.  At 4:40 I woke up on my own accord, thanks to my very own bladder alarm going off…  and then I decided it was an awesome idea to go back to bed… knowing that I would be awoken by the alarm at 5:30.  Had I just gotten on up and proceeded with the day…  I likely would be just fine right now.  So instead I sit here staring at the screen trying to make thoughts coalesce into word form.

Today should be an interesting day for me.  When I was younger I was part of my high school gifted and talented program.  I feel as though maybe the entrance requirements were a little lax if they were willing to take me.  The gifted and talented coordinator, that we lovingly referred to as Jaunamama fought hard to get us some truly unique experiences, many of which I suspect came out of her own pocket.  One of these was the Tulsa Town Hall lecture series.

Essentially she would take two of us on the long trek to Tulsa to attend one of the lectures in the series, then make a grand day of it all.  We would go to lunch someplace nice, and usually finish the afternoon with a tour of the Philbrook or something along those lines.  For the last five years, I have worked across the street from the performing arts center without thinking much about it.  This year however upon listening to the advertisements on NPR, something clicked and I signed up for the lecture series.  Luckily I have a pretty awesome boss and he has filed this down in my PPR as “Personal Development”.

FATE Crack

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A few days ago I complained about the Dark Devices FATE in Northern Thanalan, but to be truthful…  once you reach about 45 the zone as a whole tends to be the best place to level.  So as a result I have been spending quite a bit of time out there doing the various fates.  There are a number of 25k-40k experience boss fates, one of which that drops a pet if you manage to get gold.  So as a whole the zone is really worth while even if it did not have everyone’s favorite… Dark Devices.  I guess to some extent… I understood why the fate was so popular but I never really understood its full potential until yesterday.

Over lunch I was working on leveling my Bard like I have been the last several days, and when I did the ubiquitous “BRD LF FATES” shout in zone, I got invited to be a part of a custom built dark devices group.  Essentially the eight man group consisted of 3 White Mages, 3 Black Mages, 1 Bard for mana song, and 1 Paladin for flash.  How the group works is a thing of terrifying brilliance… and totally relies on poor game mechanics.   Essentially the mission at hand is for the black mages to spam attacks, the paladin to spam flash… and the white mages to cast regen on opposing players.

Regeneration Tagging

While this does not seem too heinous at face value… it gets there quickly.  Apparently one of the ways that healing works is that when regeneration is ticking on a player, it causes aggro to be generated on the pull for the healer that cast it.  So far that seems to be working as intended… it has worked that way in most MMO games.  Where things go off the rails is the fact that apparently it also TAGS the mob to the healers party.  This means by keeping regen up on opposing parties, you can essentially siphon off their kills and give your group credit.  This is the king of all “dirty pool” maneuvers, and I do not condone it in the least…  however this is so prevalent that if you have a white mage in your party… they are more than likely doing it.

When it works… it works insanely well.  In Final Fantasy XIV there is the ability to chain kill mobs and each additional mob you kill adds a multiplier to the process.  I believe you are initially given 60 seconds once the chain begins, and if the counter is low enough, each additional kill resets the counter back to 10 seconds.  As a result a big AOE group can get some extremely high chains, but I believe eventually the multiplier caps out around 200%.  During the lunchtime group… we managed to get a 354 uninterrupted chain… meaning after the first 20 or so of those… every single mob killed was worth +200% of its face experience value.  As a result I made literally over 75% of a level on one single phase of a fate.

Regressive Gameplay

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Dark Devices is a serious gimmick, and still one that I hope they break… because quite frankly it is a bit of an unfair advantage to those players that can get access to a good AOE group.  That said… since it is not considered an exploit I am certainly going to benefit from it as much as I can.  Yesterday at lunch I was level 45 and after a few more hours out in Northern Thanalan I am over halfway through level 49.  Granted I have the insane post 50 xp bonus going on for my bard, but that is some seriously fast leveling.  No wonder you see the same people out in the zone every single day farming the fate, over the course of a few weeks you could push almost every single class you had to 50.  I did not start out there until around 44, and as a bard you really don’t have all the tools you need to be successful until 46.  However I am seeing fresh 40s out there trying to make the fate work for them.  The method if nothing else… is brutally efficient.

The thing that strikes me the oddest about this entire process is how much it reminds me of the original Everquest.  Essentially I have leveled my Bard almost entirely through FATE grinding, and as a result that means sitting in a zone shouting for a group.  This is essentially the same sort of thing I can remember doing so many times in the Dreadlands.  Throughout the course of the night I would end up in multiple groups that would hunt mobs outside Karnor’s Castle, or various other key farm spots around the zone.  If you by miracle ended up with an extremely well balanced group, you might even brave the railroad that was Karnor’s Castle itself.  As much as you can solo in FFXIV, you can never beat the type of experience you can get with a party… especially while running FATEs.

I think to some extent it is this throwback to an earlier time… this regressive gameplay that has made the game so damned sticky for me.  It is like going back and playing Everquest, but taking with me all the bells and whistles and perks of a modern MMO.  Essentially the game is almost completely solo-able if you so choose to… but the group content is extremely good when it happens.  My huge problem with EQ2 is that while the soloing is amazing, any time you get more than two players together in the same place it feels like a facerolling mess.  Granted I have not actually played a lot of the Velious dungeon content, but even the big dungeons like Mistmoore have felt this way to me.  FFXIV does an amazing job with the dungeon content in making it feel like it requires effort and planning to get through it.

Tonberry Tactics

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A few days ago we took a group into Wanderers Palace and had some mixed results.  Over the course of the dungeon run we figured out how a lot of the tactics worked, but simply ran out of time before we could formulate a winning strategy for the final encounter.  We like to go into these dungeons completely cold, and figure out the boss mechanics on the fly rather than trying to rely on some guide to tell us how to do it.  So since we failed to finish the dungeon, there were several of us who had been plotting revenge.  Yesterday during the day, over IM we conspired to build a team to take on the challenge that night.

Overall I have to say the run went tons smoother, but primarily because we understood how the mechanics worked.  We went through the dungeon essentially wipe free and that left us with worlds of time to distill just how to defeat the final encounter.  After a few failed tries, we figured out the rhythm of the fight and managed to find a way to juggle the constant stream of adds, and the insane amount of damage the Tonberry King deals from his Grudge attack… that scales based on the number of adds you kill.  As a whole the entire encounter felt like a giant tug-of-war match, trying to keep me alive as the tank, but keep the adds off the healer.

I didn’t get much from the dungeon other than the experience of running it, but I believe both our Bard and Dragoon walked away with some really nice upgrades.  From the second boss a really nice chest piece dropped… but it was statistically identical to the one I received from my level 50 class quest.  So I passed and let someone else pick it up as a greed item… though honestly if it is the same stat wise, it won’t be of much use to anyone.  This is not the type of dungeon I want to run more than once a night, because it takes a lot out of you…  however I enjoyed myself.  Quite honestly there are not ANY dungeons that I really want to chain run, because even with the smoothest group these dungeons require more of you than previous games.

Wrapping Up

Well it is that time again and I need to finish this up.  I have not really posted much for the Newbie Blogger Initiative this week, but I have plans to do so this weekend.  During my Saturday and Sunday posting time I have much more time to work through a topic, so I figured I would use both days to post advice articles.  There is so much good stuff out there this year, and I need to get on with updating my blogroll to include the rest of the blogs that have signed up during the Class of 2013.  I hope you all have a great day and that it continues on into a great weekend.

Mayhem in Mathosia

Just a Gigolo

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Last night I was feeling fairly antisocial.  I logged into Rift for a little bit, but was feeling overall meh about the game, especially since I knew the bulk of the guild would be in FFXIV anyways.  I still feel bad about the fact that almost all of the Rift guild moved rather abruptly to Final Fantasy… but that just kinda happens with recent games.  Since I was not super amped about doing things with people… I decided to run around as a Bard and grind FATEs.  I have been working up the class so I could have something dpsy to play when we had too many tanks and not enough other things.  I had originally intended this to be my Dragoon that is sitting at 32…. but as I started to play the Bard it just leveled so much faster.

At level 45 in FFXIV you get a series of quests that give you four of the 5 pieces of your archetypal class look armor.  This is commonly referred to as the Artifact gear and through the first series of quests you get every slot but your chest piece.  This often leads to some bizarre looks, but honestly I am not sure the bard set COULD look goofier.  I am somewhere between a rockstar, a gigolo and a movie style gypsy.  In no case does this make me feel epic and awesome… and in the matter of a single quest I went from looking like the Dread Pirate Roberts to David Lee Roth.

Vanity Slots to the Rescue?

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Supposedly there are vanity slots on the way… and they seriously cannot get here soon enough.  I am mildly depressed to think I will have to wear a pair of pants that look like they were crafted from a circus tent until then.  The above image is the set I loved to wear…  Foestriker.  This comes from the first three dungeons… and I have been slowly gathering the rest of the pieces of the outfit.  Everything about the look seems epic to me… and I felt like the elite archer I was supposed to be.  The bard outfit on the other hand looks like I am 5 years old and got to dress myself for the first time.

Apparently I am not alone in this assessment, as most of the major forums have at least one “wtf is wrong with the bard gear” thread.  Overall most of the other class outfits I have seen have been amazing looking.  Dragoon looks like everything you would expect it to be, as does Warrior, and Paladin looks very much like the defensive tank that they are supposed to be.  Even Scholar with its quirky “I bought this jacket at an army surplus store” looks pretty cool.  So right now the bard outfit seems to be the “Moon Moon” of the crowd.  Which is kinda sad… considering just how amazing the bard class as a whole really is.  If I knew just had bad I would end up looking… I might have focused on leveling up the dragoon instead.

Server Shuffling

2013-10-03 06_31_06-I need server transfer now! - Page 9Yesterday it was announced that Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn would soon open up server transfers.  In an attempt to reunite friends and loved ones… the first five days of server transfers will be completely free.  This is generally an extremely good thing… since there were a few Stalwarts who were not patient enough to play the “get on Cactuar” game that usually involves creating characters at odd hours.  The only negative is that if you look at the list below… our realm is specifically flagged as one of the three US realms that are extremely highly congested.

As a result… the opening of server transfers may make our server queues even worse.  Essentially every night there is a very small queue when we attempt to log into the server, the hope is that even if the queues increase we will never have to go back to using our login macros to get through the sea of 1017 errors.  As a guild we would consider moving elsewhere, but it would mean starting over from scratch and moving separately.  It feels like they planned this poorly in that they did not offer a guild move option.  Currently we have essentially maxed out our guild, and all the frenetic questing of the first few weeks in part is what pushed our level up to where it is now.  Without the assistance of the quests… it would likely be far harder to reach.

Additionally we have almost maxed out our faction with the Immortal Flames… which means we could consider switching factions and starting the process of leveling our reputation there.  So the prospect of having to discard all this progress and start from scratch just does not seem like something we would want to do.  We have very few people on other servers, so for the most part it is not a huge ordeal.  I imagine that the folks transferring TO Cactuar however will have to do it during off peak hours, which could be a bit tricky since there is only a five day window to get that free transfer in.  No word yet has been posted as to when the server transfers will begin.

Mayhem in Mathosia

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I think this week why I have been so focused on trying to push up the Bard is that I know I will be spending most of my weekend playing Rift.  Last week they announced a brand new server event called Mayhem in Mathosia.  The goal of the event is in essence to get Rift back to its roots… massive large scale invasion events spanning multiple zones.  During the event there will be unique planar drops that include new colors of Hellbug Mount, a unique Kirin, and some cosmetic gear.  I want it all…  I want it now.

The schedule looks a little something like this…

Phase 1: Friday, Oct. 4 – Saturday, Oct. 5 – Silverwood / Freemarch
Phase 2: Sunday, Oct. 6 – Monday, Oct. 7 – Gloamwood / Stonefield
Phase 3: Tuesday, Oct. 8 – Wednesday, Oct. 9 – Scarlet Gorge / Scarwood Reach
Phase 4: Thursday, Oct. 10 – Saturday, Oct. 12 – Moonshade Highlands / Droughtlands

RIFT_POSE_CinderHellbug_02

So I will likely be spending most of my time over in Rift this weekend and most of next week trying to gather up all the goodies.  I will of course be popping back into FFXIV if someone needs a high level dungeon run, or to help out with instances as needed.  We have been trying our best to be available anytime a guild member is on high center due to needing to do a specific dungeon run.  I still would like to get my rogue to level 60… but the 50+ leveling just feels like a tedious process.  Which is a bit disturbing considering I am right now playing a game where I am forced to level unaided by quests.  By completing enough of the various invasions you can win the unique appearance Hellbug above, so that will be what I am working towards.

Sponsors Unite

Class of 2013

nbilarge

Yesterday the 2013 Newbie Blogger Initiative officially kicked off and the new blogs are starting to trickle into the forum.  Yesterday I updated my blogroll to include the five blogs that had signed up to date, and over the night another two have joined the fray.  Here is hoping that the effort will continue to grow throughout the month.  Last time we ended up with I believe 110 new blogs starting the process, so we have a long ways to go before we see those numbers.

I will update my blogroll accordingly later today… but currently this years crop looks a little something like this…

Check them out and give them some link love.

Sponsors Unite

Similarly, yesterday kicked off quite a number of “advice” posts from the sponsors.  Like always these varied in topic greatly covering general tips, where to find inspiration, and various technical tidbits.  I am sure in the coming days we will be seeing a lot more of these posts but so far here is the run down of topics that were posted as of this morning.

I am sure as the month rolls on, we will see quite a few more sponsor posts as well.  I think for the first day, the program was pretty well represented.  My goal is to do a short daily synopsis of what all has been happening on the days I am not posting an advice article myself.

Heroic Characters

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A few days ago I had posted about the fact that October 1st was the beginning of the ability to create a free Heroic Character in Everquest 2.  Most of us initially thought this was for subscribers only… or in EQ2 nomenclature “Gold Members”.  However yesterday Stargrace of MMO Quests pointed out that ANYONE can log in and create a free level 85 character during the October 1st – October 15th period.  Additionally they have once again tightened the reins of the free to play restrictions.  Previously it was extremely frustrating to play a free to play character, because you could not equip Legendary or higher items…  which meant that essentially you could not equip anything that came from a dungeon or most world drops.

With the introduction of Heroic Characters, all of these item locks are gone… as are the various items that were sold on the store to unlock the ability to equip them.  Additionally as of yesterdays patch… much like they did in the past with other expansions… Destiny of Velious is now included for free.  This gives you access to content up to level 95, and covers all of the newer zones added into the game.  They have also broken up the Age of Discovery features into bite sized chunks that allow you to gobble up only the pieces you want, for example you can buy access to mercenaries only, or just the beastlord class.  Since they are removing some of the appeal for remaining a gold member, they have added in a permanent +15% coin loot bonus and +10% mount speed bonus to all existing gold members.  They have also mentioned they will be adding more perks into the equation to keep maintaining gold level a valuable thing.

The Swash and Berserker

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Wanting to take advantage of the free promotion, I logged in both of my accounts last night and created and or upsized characters on each.  For some time I had been trying to level a dps character on my main account, and had created Belgrifter a Ratonga Swashbuckler.  Namely the Swash is a very high survival dps, and I was having a decent time leveling him.  Ultimately I ran into the same roadblock I ran into with all of my characters however.  Once you have had flight in EQ2, you simply do not want to level a character without it.  So essentially I was stuck with a decision… either grind up tradeskills or grind up levels.  I managed to push him up to 55 before something shiny caught my eye and I abandoned the effort.

Since I could not really see myself returning to playing him until I had flight… I decided to go ahead and use that accounts token to super size my Ratonga.  The gear that they give you is extremely nice… far nicer than the gear I have ever started velious content in before.  I seriously doubt if I will replace any of it during the Othimir quests, it seems to be on par with that level of item.  The weapon choices were a little wonky, giving me a sword and a mace… but I can live with that.  The big problem is I have NEVER used a mace on my rat… but they auto leveled all of my weapon skills for me… so that really is not a problem.

If you look at the image from the above paragraph you will see Belglaive my new 85 Iksar Bezerker.  On my second account I mostly had support classes, as I used to regularly dual box before the release of Mercenaries.  As a result I really did not have anything “tanky” on that account.  If I ever wanted to dual box again, I figure it would end up extremely handy to have access to a tank, and Bezerker is the one I have never really played to high levels.  I have a very small dwarven one on my main account, but I think he is somewhere in the 30s.  The best thing is… the changes give me full access again to my Dark Elf Warden, since I had stopped playing him due to the item restrictions and not wanting to maintain a second subscription.

Wrapping Up

The ability to create a free level 85 character is an extremely amazing offer.  If you have ever considered playing EQ2, I highly suggest you make an account during the 1-15 period and create a level 85 even if you do not intend to play it right now.  You can do a lot of cool stuff with an 85, and even use it to feed lower level characters items.  I have always loved EQ2, and I will admit the prospect of fresh high level characters has gotten me pumped about playing it some again.  Just not sure how often I will do so… given my current addiction to Final Fantasy XIV.  If you do end up rolling characters, I highly suggest Antonia Bayle the Roleplaying server.  It has probably the best community I have seen in any game… other than potentially Landroval in LOTRO.