Unlikely White Mage


Yesterday a good friend and I were having a conversation and she said a certain phrase I have heard over and over before.  “Everybody has an agenda”, which is something I have just taken at face value in the past.  But this lead me down a line of thought that I had not actually travelled before.  If everyone out there has an agenda…  and this is pretty much just accepted common knowledge…  then what does the world think my agenda is?  I am out and about in the community on a daily basis interacting and mingling…  but I wonder how many people think I have some grand ulterior motive?  This lead me to assess what my actual Agenda is, and the only thing I could come up with is something along these lines.

To which I was immediately accused of being a cult leader…  but really isn’t every good group at least slightly cult like?  While I won’t be trying to convince everyone to wear matching tracksuits so that we can ride a comet…  I am trying to convince people that it is cool to hang out with friends and share these games we way with one another.  I feel like all of this starts with the fact that I grew up the only child of extremely busy parents.  I am exceptionally good at entertaining myself, but I always felt jealous of the kids that had close neighbors, or siblings to play with.  These days I try and surround myself with as many awesome people as I can find, and build a giant extended family of sorts.  Being the whirling dervish of social media interaction that I am sometimes… folks could get the wrong impression that I am “up to something”.  However in truth, I am just looking to hang out with interesting people.  I approach every interaction like this person could be a new life long friend, rather than someone who could bury a dagger in my back.

Unlikely White Mage

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Last night I had but one mission to accomplish.  Upon logging out Tuesday evening, I was sitting roughly one third of the way into 49.  White Mage has been the hardest class for me to level in Final Fantasy XIV in part because it is the least like the sort of character I normally play.  I set down the path of leveling a Conjurer so that I could become a Paladin, and then just kept up with the process thinking that I had 2 tanks, 1 ranged dps, 1 melee dps…  and the only thing I was really missing role-wise was a healer.  Originally I simply kept leveling Conjurer so that I could get to level 34 and get Stoneskin… which is extremely useful for soloing as a Paladin.  From there I figured I was close enough that I would go ahead and push for 50.  Additionally over the course of running so many dungeons and casual raids in this game, I had accumulated quite a bit of healer gear simply by greeding on it.  The final incentive came when I needed to spend down some of my soldiery tokens and opted to go ahead and purchase the level 110 White Mage weapon pictured in the image above.

As a result of all of this I got on last night, ran a guildhest, and two low level duty roulettes and finally reached my level.  After sifting through my bags I managed to equip enough gear to get me to level 85, which is not too shabby gear wise.  The hardest part of course was figuring out what my White Mage outfit would end up looking like.  I finally settled on the Loyalist Bilaud dyed Morbal Green, with gloves, pants and boots from the Acolyte set and the awesome shades Cylladora made for me ages ago.  I felt like I needed to go with something non-traditional since the white mage 110 weapon is a giant war mace…  and I happen to like it.  The end result is my take on a final fantasy battle priest, which is fitting considering I seem to spend as much time casting Stone II as I do healing.  Largely I am just happy this push is over, because leveling as a Conjurer/White Mage is slow going.  Chewing through every mob simply takes more time that I am used to from playing anything else.  My only suggestion for future CNJ/WHM players…  run it up first before you realize just how slow it kills things.

Ninja or Monk

ffxiv 2015-02-05 06-52-56-42 At this point I am not sure what my next Final Fantasy XIV project will be.  Right now my Rogue is 15 and my Monk is 33.  Both classes are extremely fun to play, but I think I will probably spend more time at max level playing the Monk than I ever would the ninja.  The Mudra system seems interesting, but it also seems like something that is extremely fiddly and likely to just piss me off… especially combined with just how “weak” survival wise the ninja ends up feeling.  Mostly I am biased against Ninjas after spending so much time running raids and dungeons with random ones.  Ninjas seem to either take no damage at all… or all of the damage at once.  Healing Ninjas as my White Mage has been the bane of my existence over the last few weeks, and I really don’t relish putting anyone through that.

ffxiv 2015-02-05 06-54-22-92 So you would think the decision is all wrapped up and I would be leveling Monk right?  Well not quite that easy.  Up until this point I had felt like the pugilist/monk play style was far less interesting than say a Dragoon, which is the reason why it has been lagging so far behind my other melee classes.  On top of this…  almost all of their gear sets look silly to me.  If I played a monk, I would ultimately be stuck wearing the Infantry set for the rest of his life, because I really have not cared for any of the other sets I have seen.  There is a set from Labyrinth of Ancients that looks amazing, but it is also one of the most hotly contested item sets in the game.  Last night I ran a guildhest with an adorable Lalafell ninja…  which got me thinking that since my goal in playing a Lalafell is to be adorable all the time…  maybe Ninja is in my future.  I guess time will tell which one I actually start playing.  In any case I would love to finish out my Disciple of War classes so I can clean all of that gear out of my banks.  Months ago I said I would like to hit 50 on all classes before the expansion, and with my raid schedule in World of Warcraft that is never going to happen.  Maybe I will set that goal a bit lower and target finishing out all of the Disciple of War classes before the expansion.

The Family I Know

Of Large Families

I grew up Catholic which also means I come from a long line of extremely large families.  My Grandfather was one of five children, and each of them for the most part had five or six children of their own.  My mother for example is one of six siblings, and my “aunt” that just passed away is one of five.  The end result is that the get-togethers on that side of the family where relatively massive.  As a child I was completely comfortable with the way that “mom” and “dad” worked and “grandma” and “grandpa” but most of the other relationships just baffled me.  As a result pretty much any adult female that was not either my mother or my grandmother ended up being my “Aunt”.  No one decided to correct me so it stuck.

My Aunt Marilyn while technically my first cousin once removed, was an Aunt in every since of the word that actually mattered.  She was this quiet presence in everything that happened in my life from the occasional little league game, to getting my eagle scout and to countless band concerts.  She had a way of showing up at exactly the right moment.  She also had this magical way of knowing exactly what was hip and trendy and whatever us kids might be into at the time.  This morning I woke up to an alarm clock that she got me when I was 12 or 13, and every time I wake up to it I think of her.  It was little things like that, something that she knew I would need but I didn’t even realize myself that just baffle me.

The Family I Know

At the Rosary on Tuesday night I got up to talk about my Aunt which is something I had wished I had been able to do at my Grandmothers funeral recently.  I had regretted not saying something then, so I figured I shouldn’t pass the occasion now.  In many ways this is the family I knew the most growing up and as a result they feel most like home.  As kids my mother and my aunt Margaret Ann decided that me and my second cousins would be closer than that.  As a result they tried to create as many opportunities for us to get together and play.  Growing up I spent huge swaths of time either at their house or them in my hometown.  When my wife and I decided to elope, it was my cousin that I called upon to stand up for me on the spur of the moment.

As we have all gotten busier we have drifted apart but seeing them yesterday was an extremely good thing.  We exchanged the most current cell phones and promised to make plans to get together, and I sincerely hope we will.  My generation is just going to have to start putting out the effort to make occasions to get together just like my parents generation did.  As each of these members of the previous generation passes on what is going with them is more than their life.  What is leaving is the glue that held us together.  We will have to step in to make sure that bond doesn’t break.  Each of us has reached a point in our lives where we are more or less stable, so it is time to start trying to see each other more often.

Down the Rabbit Hole

ffxiv 2014-08-27 15-13-35-284 When I finally got home and put out a few fires, I was able to log into Final Fantasy XIV and check out the festival that started today.  It seemed fitting that while I had been remembering family, the game had been having an in game remembrance event called the rising.  For those that do not realize it, “A Realm Reborn” or FFXIV 2.0 is both literally and figuratively rising from the ashes of the previous game.  When 1.0 came to a close they destroyed the world with the dread comet Dalmund and the arrival of the Primal Bahamut.  The Rising event commemorates the rising of the world out of the ashes of the previous one.  There is a single relatively short quest,  that comes long with an extremely charming bit of storyline.  Completing the quest gets the players a “Huzzah” emote that at least as a warrior causes me to jump up high into the air with my axe held aloft.

My focus over the last few days has been on getting my White Mage to thirty four so I can cast stoneskin.  The problem is I have noticed I am sorely lacking another ability that comes from Thaumaturge.  There was a point last night when I was healing a dungeon that I simply could not cast fast enough to save the tank who had moved out of range of my healing.  If I had swiftcast which is a Thaumaturge cross class ability I likely could have saved him.  Seeing the need for it I opted to start working on my Thaumaturge to at least get him to level 26.  This is the way that everything seems to go in Final Fantasy XIV.  In order to be truly efficient in one thing, you need a whole bunch of other things leveled as well.  For the moment my goals are gearing the Bard through the hunt quests, and then working on Thaumaturge to 26 so I can continue onwards with my White Mage to the level cap.

White Mage Soul

The Best Intentions

Yesterday I read a post by Missy Mojo lamenting just how “un-fun” Blaugust has become for her.  I fear that there are a lot more people out there feeling the same.  I hear the same sort of lament in Kodra’s voice each night as he says he really needs to do his blog post.  The idea behind Blaugust was simple, to challenge people to do the same thing I do and write something, anything every day.  The thing is that the challenge grew legs of its own and sucked in a lot of newly minted bloggers along with the veterans.  I figured I might have five or so veteran bloggers take up the challenge as I did a year and a half ago.  The thing is I didn’t get there over night, and in fact had been blogging for around four years before I decided to post regularly.

This is probably the worst kind of event for someone new to the craft to start under, and we had huge participation by folks who started just for this even or started under the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  I promise my intention was not to grind people down with daily blogging, but instead to fill the gap that often happens in later summer for content.  In many ways it has worked better than I could have imagined, and tragedy in my own life has caused me to fall behind in the reading department.  My biggest fear is that this whole experiment will cause large lapses in content for the newer folks like Missy.  If you are doing this every day and not enjoying it, then it kinda defeats the point of blogging in the first place.  I give you complete permission to drop out of the contest with no hard feelings or lamentation.

White Mage Soul

ffxiv 2014-08-27 06-41-19-389 The primary goal of yesterday for me was to get my conjurer to 30 so that I could become a White Mage.  Since I already have a 50 tank, 50 ranged and 50 melee…  I felt like I needed some sort of max level healer at my disposal as well.  As far as healers go, I have enjoyed my time healing dungeons on the conjurer far more than I have enjoyed any healer in a long time.  The style just feels natural and I can usually land in a relaxing rhythm during each dungeon.  I figure the healing will get more complicated as I get more tools at my disposal but for the time being I am enjoying myself.  I had leveled Arcanist to 15 over the weekend in preparation for nearing 30 conjurer, since White Mage is a combination of the two.  I might return to leveling Arcanist at some point so I can become a scholar, but I feel no real pressing need to either.

The thing I found funny was that the level 30 Conjurer quest was far more difficult than the quest to actually become a white mage.  Even moreso I found it odd that in order to do my quest to get the unicorn mount I had to shift back to Conjurer as well.  In any case I finished both and am now an up and coming white mage ready to take on the world.  After coming home from the rosary last night I worked my way up to 32 so that hopefully someday tonight I can start running Brayflox for gear.  I have two pieces of the battlemage set but I would really like to get the rest of it, or at the very least the robe.  Additionally I would not mind seeing the white mage ring drop either.

Gearing the Warrior

ffxiv 2014-08-27 06-51-03-594 Since it is pretty certain that I will be needing my Warrior for when we start Binding Coil of Bahamut hopefully soonish, I opted to start rolling on Warrior gear in Syrcus tower.  Yesterday Tam and I decided to queue together for our weekly loot run.  Unlike other games you can run Syrcus as often as you like, but you can only take a single piece of loot from there each week.  The nice thing is this allows you to keep running it in the hopes of getting that one item you need.  Since most of the people  in there are after the item to craft their weathered weapon almost all of the gear rots, or at the very least it isn’t terribly contested.  The run started off really smoothly, and our group had a warrior tanking… which to some extent made my heart sink a little.  My goal going into the place was the pick up some warrior loot, but I brought my dragoon just as a backup in case something phenomenal dropped.

The first boss went extremely smoothly, and I was feeling like our tank was doing an amazing job.  On the first boss the warrior gauntlets dropped and moments afterwards the tank was asking for us to pass or roll so he could equip them.  We all did as asked and the moment he got the loot he dropped from the party.  This was the first time I had seen this happen, but apparently it is a frequent occurrence in Syrcus.  The awesome part though is that he was replaced by a really well geared Gladiator, and on the very next boss the Warrior chest piece dropped, allowing me to pick it up easily.  So that combined with picking up the soldiery tome ring takes my Warrior to 91 ilevel and more than ready for the Coil.


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


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.