Dankest Dungeon

ffxiv_dx11 2016-07-21 20-06-43

Palace of the Dead

ffxiv_dx11 2016-07-21 20-06-43

Last night I was not terribly certain what I would be doing with myself.  For the last several days I have been heavily focused on transmoggy things over in World of Warcraft, but on the same day that patch was released the newest patch landed in Final Fantasy XIV.  Before I left work I saw Tam ask if anyone would be interested in taking a trip into the Palace of the Dead… or as he has begun referring to it the “Dankest Dungeon”.  This had been something on my radar for a long awhile, with the theory being that you had a brand new leveling path for alts.  I have an army of alts and honestly you can only manage so much FATE grinding before you need some other path.  It seems like everyone on my server has gotten the same idea, because apparently to queue for the dungeon you have to be standing in Quarrymill.  I snapped this photo last night but if you looked in any direction you would have seen pretty much the same density of players.  In many ways this reminded me of the wall Revenant’s Toll felt on raid reset day.  Neph wanted to play her Dark Knight, Tam his Black Mage, and Thalen his Machinist…  which left me needing to do the team focused thing and play a healer.  Anyone who knows me very well will know I am not really the best healer in the world.  The irony there is that I started my MMO career in Everquest as a cleric…  the go to healer for any serious content.  I also feel that experience pretty much generated a massive mental block against ever wanting to do it again.

Now I have had a White Mage for a good while, and actually enjoyed myself leveling that.  However for whatever reason the Scholar class has never really clicked with me.  Before the launch of Heavensward I managed to get Arcanist to 30 and actually claim both the Scholar and Summoner jobs but pretty much stalled out shortly thereafter.  I felt like I sucked at the class and simply stopped queuing for dungeons, because for ever Tam Tara there would be five Brayflox that I struggled to deal with.  The interesting thing about the deep dungeon is how it has its own parallel leveling system, and how it apparently invents things that simply don’t exist.  For example when you go in as a job…  you don’t exactly get the path that you took to get to your level.  For example I had Eos and Selene really quickly rather than my Carbunkle friends, which is I guess the same thing that happens when you get leveled down in a dungeon.  On the other side of the equation, Kodra commented about having a serious challenge dealing with trying to function in the dungeon as an Arcanist without the Scholar job.  Arcanists play this strange role of not quite but almost healer, that I remember struggling with when I ran dungeons…  because I was also note quite a dps.  The early levels seem to heavily favor dps, with the last set that we completed before I was literally falling asleep at the keyboard…  needing us to actually do proper group tactics to get through.

Weapons of Light

ffxiv_dx11 2016-07-21 20-31-55

So as you move through the dungeon there are chests that you open that do a bunch of different things.  Firstly you get a shared group inventory that contains these items called Pomanders.  These cause various effects both to buff your party, and to counter act the negative effects of the dungeon.  For example there is one that shows the entire map so you can navigate to only the rooms that contain chests, or another that will disable all traps in a floor.  There are still others that are designed to counter act very specific negative effects gained from certain encounters, like Pox that stops all health regeneration.  This one is particularly nasty if placed on the tank…  which it was for a significant period of time last night.  The natural instinct for me is to clear every room, but you are timed from the moment you set foot inside and have sixty minutes to clear ten floors.  At first this seems like an easy task, as we quickly breezed through the early levels.  However once we got onto the third set of floors that timer started to make a big difference, and in theory you are given roughly six minutes per floor.  As a result we started pulling the levels in a minimal clear fashion with our dps fanning out at times to scout ahead and try and determine which path we should go down as a group.  The name of the game is finding the blue and silver chests that contain “gear” upgrades… and by that I mean +1 to your arms and armor score which serve as the gear for the dungeon.

The most interesting thing about the experience is how you gain your abilities during the normal arc that occurs as you level up.  However for whatever reason I thought I would hit a ceiling and simply stop getting abilities when I hit level 31 which is what would have happened were I running dungeons.  Instead I continued to move forward and am now in my 50s gaining heavensward scholar abilities that are unlocked through quests.  So in theory this is a crash course in how to play your class… long before you actually get the abilities.  As to whether or not this worked…  I started out the dungeon run extremely rough and almost all of the healing was coming from Selene the murder fairy.  As we moved forward I started to get the hang of it, and was using adlo like a mad man followed up with some direct healing.  People died, a bunch… or at least more than I am happy with… and we ended up wiping on a really bad luck trap spawn.  However as the night progressed I started feeling significantly more comfortable healing as a scholar.  In theory I would feel much better stepping into a dungeon now than I did before last night.  All in all I got roughly three levels which is a slightly faster progression rate than running dungeons, but not the sort of speed that is going to lead to a lot of chain power leveling.  I had a lot of fun and just wished that we had been able to start earlier in the evening so that I could see the end of the dungeon.  I definitely want to do this again soon.


Reluctant Healer

Tyranny of Blank Page

ffxiv 2015-03-11 19-16-57-98 I’ve been going through a bit of a spell the last several mornings where I get upstairs, sit down, and stare into the abyss that is a blank screen not really knowing quite what to fill it with.  So this is a post to tell all of the people that read me, that seem to think I have this limitless font of material… that sometimes it runs dry.  In part it feels like I am just not doing all that much of any interest in the games I am playing.  Due to various issues at work my in game time has been very distracted.  Often times I might be at the screen but I am doing a generally poor job of paying attention to the people around me.  Even last night while sitting on Voice Chat, it was like it was filtered and muffled in the background of my mind, taking a few minutes to pull my focus forward and actually understand what someone just said.  Suffice to say it is me, not the games I am currently playing that is causing the problem and in an attempt to make things better I went to bed pretty early last night.

The last few days have just been odd to exist in my skin.  I had a very interrupted weekend, where I did not accomplish much in the way of gaming.  Then each morning my routine is thrown off because my wife is on spring break, and while in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t change my schedule  that much… something feels fundamentally off.  It has been nice having her home during the day because it means I don’t have to figure out something for dinner that can be reheated easily.  Last night she made this amazing batch of Chicken and Dumplings, and from the sound of it the recipe was super easy.  Largely just dump a bunch of stuff in the crock pot and give it an appropriate amount of time.  The thing that frustrates me the most about my current “out of it” state, is that I feel like at any given moment I am letting down five people because I am not doing whatever they need me to do.  Between MMOGames, the fledgling AggroChat site, the insanely growing free company in Final Fantasy XIV, the guild in World of Warcraft and various sundry other side projects I feel pulled in so many places.  When I am “myself” and in my right mind, with the appropriate frame of reference… it all seems to work.  When I am in this current stupor nothing seems to function and I am failing in equal parts at all of it.

Reluctant Healer

ffxiv 2015-03-19 06-33-40-41 One of the more interesting side effects of my current mission to cap poetics every single week, is the fact that I seem to be absolutely rolling in Tomestones of Soldiery.  As a result I have been using it to bolster all of my other classes, and most recently I have been pouring it into my White Mage.  The ultimate irony is that I am sitting at 104 gear score, but have yet to heal anything at level 50.  I have to say I am looking pretty badass though in my daystar gear set.  Overall I am a huge fan of all of the soldiery gear, though I feel like I should probably be spending the points on my Bard instead.  My bard actually gets use anytime we need a ranged dps for something and not a tank.  This doesn’t happen extremely often, but far more often than I would ever consider swapping to heal something.  I have to admit that healing in Final Fantasy XIV was really fun up through Brayflox… and then it is like things got too real for me.  I had too many flashbacks to my early days as a healer, and it stopped being nearly as much fun.

I know I have covered this numerous times but I started my MMO career as a Cleric in Everquest.  For years I had played Clerics in Dungeons and Dragons and managed to turn them into these awesome holy warriors.  Picking the right deity here, and the right spells there… could turn what is usually a support class into an amazing front line battle priest.  Unfortunately this design went against everything that was Everquest, and I spent a lot of my time soloing using the good ole Root and Nuke combination.  Then when it came to raiding… I had to learn about the frustration that is the Complete Heal Rotation, where every 2 to 3 seconds the main tank is getting a full heal, so you have to time the 12 second cast so that someone is always starting up the next one.  All of this makes me really reluctant to heal anything, because I never want to get back into a mode of operation where that style of game play is the normal.  So I guess I have a bit of a mental block towards actually putting myself out there as a viable healer.  I would gladly do it for anyone in the free company, but I just haven’t really made it widely known that it was an option.

Guild Tanking

ffxiv 2015-03-19 06-43-48-08 Instead I am far more comfortable taking up the mantle of a guild tank.  In my current daze I have probably missed a half dozen opportunities to tank for guildies.  Last night I managed to catch one of these as Solaria  and her daughter Isalenne needed to run Haukke Manor.  I would have tanked anything for them, but it so happens that Haukke is probably one of my favorite dungeons in the entire game.  I love the whole Castlevania feel to the place, and while leveling my healer I seemed to get that place almost every single time I popped into the low level roulette.  As a result I have pretty much every pull memorized, and Isa commented on just how relaxing the run was compared to the average duty finder one.  I actually got into a discussion on twitter yesterday about DPS queues and class balance and I realize that I am 100% part of the problem.  I will happily don the mantle of the serious tank when it comes to my friends…   but when I solo queue for the duty finder… I do so as a DPS.  I’ve never really learned how to turn off that part of me that takes total responsibility for the success or failure for the group when I am tanking.  As such I am willing to take that burden for my friends, but cannot bring myself to do it for strangers.

The problem is I know deep down in my bones how generally awesome the Final Fantasy XIV community is.  I know that I have tanked for random strangers before while leveling… and actually enjoyed it.  The problem is I have this mental wall that I struggle to get around.  Since the introduction of the Ninja, the DPS queues in Final Fantasy XIV have been completely out of control.  If you do a low level duty finder you can be sitting in that queue for over thirty minutes as dps, and if you are a ninja… it trends extremely close to infinity as the game seems to try to stick a ranged and a melee in a group if at all possible.  The end result is a lot of frustration for newer players that just need to get dungeons running.  As such I try my damnedest to intercept people needing dungeons and make them happen among free company members.  The problem is… not all of my friends are on Cactuar, and not all of them are in our Free Company.  I really should be a better person and do more “charity queues”, which is a term we came up with shortly after release when everyone seemed to need Ifrit but no one could get a group.  Various members of our free company would queue for Ifrit and help a bunch of people through that obstacle.  I remember one Black Mage had been sitting in that queue for three hours, so really I need to step up to the plate and do more random tanking.  Knowing this however is slightly different from doing this…  but I am going to try and force myself out there.

Belghast the Healer

Lack of Rundowns

Over the last few days the whole post rundown concept has simply not been sustainable.  As I said yesterday I have had a whole bunch of technical issues with my two primary machines, leading me to be super late with my blog post.  As a result the whole rundown thing just hasn’t been in the radar.  At this point since I am having to edit them back in later, I am wondering if it really is sustainable for me to keep doing.  My morning blogging ritual gives me thirty minutes to an hour of time to work in a blog post.  The verification and retrieval of the links takes almost that long as well because ultimately I end up reading the posts as I go.  So on the week days I simply do not have enough time to keep up the practice.

The first few days I simply edited the list in at work over lunch, but the problem is my work world has gotten significantly busier as well.  All of this frustrates me since I want to find a way to showcase all of the awesome posts other than my ubiquitous retweets.  What I really want to showcase is the fact that out of the 45 or so participants…  35 of those have not missed a single day.   Then we have another batch that is also awesome of bloggers who started late but have been faithful ever since.  My biggest hope is that this spirit of community and shared purpose extends past the month.  I know the Newbie Blogger Initiative as it has run on, has gotten to be that way… in that I am still in regular contact with a lot of the people I mentored during the month.  I posted awhile back about the lack of community out here in the non-game-specific space… but hopefully we are changing that one blog at a time.

Running for Grand Prize

Began Late but Not Missed a Day Since


Belghast the Healer

ffxiv 2014-08-06 14-41-38-651 Yesterday I managed to get to level 16 on my conjurer, the required level to start the Duty Roulette process.  Now you have to realize that I have not really healed anything in years, at least not a dungeon.  Probably the last time I regularly healed was during the Burning Crusade on my Paladin in World of Warcraft.  That was roughly seven years ago, and it is a role that I tend to shy away from.  The reasoning is my very first MMO experience was as a Cleric in Everquest, and it pretty much burned me on the role from that point out.  That said I like to always have at least a healing option in my stable of alts, and since I now have every possible role other than healer… I figured it was time to do something about that.  So I channeled all of my bravery and queued for the Duty Roulette…  there is honestly something about that name that is so much more fitting than “finder”.  When you hit the button you really are taking a huge chance on what exactly you are going to get in the process.

ffxiv 2014-08-06 14-45-58-060 Thankfully for my very first dungeon I got an amazing group.  I seriously probably could not have assembled a better “starter” dungeon group than I ended up with.  We had dps that never pulled aggro, and a tank that managed to pick up every single add without fail.  There was never a point at which I drew healing aggro on anything, and I literally did not have to heal anyone other than the main tank.  In the back of my mind I knew this was a rarity as far as random dungeon groups went, but I was thankful to have it as my “breaking in” period.  For the most part everything went smoothly and we made it to the end of Tam-Tara Deep Croft in what felt like record time… without skipping any content in the process.  I was thinking to myself that yeah, I could maybe do this healing thing.

Reality Sets In

ffxiv 2014-08-06 15-13-03-480 So if I got the idyllic situation for my first run, my second run was the absolute worst possible situation.  We get started and the tank is the only one of us not communicating at all.  Like people tend to be pretty friendly and I open every dungeon run with a simple “Hey Folks, How Goes It?”, which usually starts up some chatter as we do the dungeon run.  The tank was completely silent, and sat there for a few minutes and then suddenly lurched forward without warning and pulled.  My immediate thought was console player, since they tend not to respond to anything… ever… or if they do they respond in very short single character replies.  It was a gladiator tank and he proceeded to start beating on a single target, and ignoring everything else in the pack.  The moment I cast a single heal it all magnetized to me and I essentially became the main tank at that point.  Problem was that the target he was on… he wasn’t really tanking either and the first time a dps started attacking it they would pull it off of him.

ffxiv 2014-08-06 16-44-12-862 After a few pulls like this the tank proceeded to AFK, at which point the group kicked him and we cleared the way to the first boss without a tank at all.  It was me, a thaumaturge and a pugilist and I healed through the damage.  When we got another tank it this one was wearing most of the relic armor set, so my hope was that she would do all of the things that the other tank wasn’t.  Turned out that she was an extremely competent tank and the rest of the run went smoothly.  By the time group three had rolled around I was starting to feel my wheaties, and thought I could take on anything.  I didn’t really struggle last night until I encountered my first group wanting to use weird tactics at the expense of the healer.  In Halatali on the final boss, there are these adds that need to be killed before they get to the fire in the center of the room.  If you don’t catch one it does an AOE burst on the entire party.  My group ignored these completely and as a result I had to heal through constant AOE burst damage… Medica was my friend.

More Chill Than Tanking

The major reality check that I was not quite prepared for was the fact that it is so much more relaxing to heal than to tank.  Granted that might just be a me thing, but I feel like I am constantly having to watch everything and make sure I have aggro on it all as I play a game of “bejeweled” making sure all of the gems are bright orange squares.  Healing on the other hand is more like playing whack a mole, and that invokes so much less stress.  I have to make sure I am not standing in shit, and then I have to make sure all of the bars are full.  That’s it, that is my only focus and I feel like I can relax considerably.   Sure there are moments where you have to work hard to top everyone off, but that isn’t “every single pull” where I feel like as a tank you are constantly struggling to maintain threat over your party.  At this point of course I have only healed the first few instances which admittedly are much easier than the ones to come, so we will see if I change my opinion significantly as I go.

ffxiv 2014-08-06 22-13-56-942 The long and short is that I am embracing this new role and enjoying myself.  In the video at the beginning of this block I heal three different dungeons and all of the groups go relatively smoothly.  I am glad that my party cannot hear my stream of consciousness commentary, because it would likely piss a lot of them off.  Ashgar was talking about getting commendations so much faster as a healer, and I can see that to some extent.  During one of the dungeon runs I got three commendations, meaning that I got every one available.  However there are multiple dungeons I have walked out of without a single one, which is something that is super rare for me as a DPS.  I feel like tanking is the flashy job that everyone appreciates…  not dying is significantly less tangible.  As a tank I have always appreciated my healers, because they are the lifeline that allows me to do the batshit crazy things I do.  I feel like there isn’t as much appreciate for healers from the general public.  You only notice the healers when they are doing a poor job.

Writing Prompts

I’ve been stressed and busy the last few days and as a result I have not added any new prompts to the stack.  However as I have seen a few people dipping into them I thought I should add a few more to the pile.

  • What is the most thankless job in gaming?  I am trying to keep this broad on purpose because I am not meaning the holy trinity.  There are so many roles from ore farmer, to sniper that are played in various games.  What one gets the least credit?
  • What is your favorite appearance item or set of items?  Everyone has something that they keep in their inventory just because they love the look of it.  What is yours?
  • What does MMO mean to you?  This term gets used broadly, but doesn’t really have a firm definition.  What does it mean to you and where do you draw the line between traditional online games.

#Blaugust #FFXIV #Conjurer