Monday, 10 April 2017

I never expected to write this post

I've long believed that only a maniac or masochist would ever play FFXI for fun.

I last played in August 2012 and that was after a year long break. I started playing again at the very end of January 2017. So, I had a 4 year and 5 month break, and I've been playing again for about 2 months.

As usual, the decision to return was prompted more by others than personal interest. Needless to say those others fell by the wayside almost immediately, leaving me to trudge on alone. But has it been a trudge? No, it hasn't!


A huge amount has changed in FFXI since I last played. SE introduced a pretty awesome way for people to complete old content and level up very quickly without a group. That's been a huge boon to my enjoyment.

Mechanically, two other changes have made a huge difference to my enjoyment. Firstly, fast travel has been expanded enormously. It's still nowhere close to being on par with "modern" MMOs but for FFXI it's a quantum leap. Secondly, it's now possible to equip gear cosmetically and, again, it's not like other games. On the downside, you have to keep the item you want the cosmetic look of somewhere in your (also vastly expanded) inventory somewhere. On the plus side, you don't permanently change the look of any item and the "look" applies to any gear you wear. FFXI has a long tradition of min/max "gear swapping" and this has been well catered for. I actually really like the implementation of this system.

To do or not to do

A further boost to my enjoyment has been the personal limitations I set before considering any personal goals. The main one is that I won't buy the last expansion. This immediately reduces the number of things that can be done in a game that already has a huge amount to do. I think the latest content is largely expansion agnostic so this probably hasn't made as bigger difference as initially anticpaited.

Secondly, I decided to avoid any and all current "end game" activity. This basically excuses me from the frankly cynical FFXI gear treadmill, which I can only assume is now the sole driving force behind a game now in self-confessed maintenance mode.

So, having forbidden myself from doing anything that literally every other player IS doing, what am I doing?

I started played in FFXI in 2007, which was just after Wings of the Goddess came out. That was the preceding major expansion. Apparently the 6 releases between that and Seekers of Adoulin were just "Battle Content." So, broadly speaking, I want to "complete" the content that I came up with.

Even the simplest quests in FFXI have a huge amount of detail and because of the aforementioned gear treadmill it was always hard to focus on enjoying that. There were always more pressing gear acquisition concerns.  The fact is, I was never able to commit enough time to have anything other than respectable gear; I've always been behind the curve. The bulk of my playtime was really about treading water gear-wise. Sad but true.

And so, my main goal for this "stint" is the completion of the Wings of the Goddess storyline, which I always really enjoyed. I've completed the story from all the previous expansions and so this really feels like unfinished business. I also wanted to get my Beastmaster to 99. Aside from that I have set some fairly arbitrary gear goals. These were really just a way to structure my involvement with older battle content as better gear is more easily attained elsewhere. It's the journey that's important to me, not the goal.

Finally, Summoner. When I first started to play FFXI I wanted to play Summoner but I never felt as if I was allowed to. It wasn't a popular class when I started to play but, as a pet job, it didn't have the independence of Beastmaster and Puppetmaster. It was always one of FFXIs true support jobs and, thus, largely irrelevant. However, I've always loved the lore surrounding Windurst and summoners so I think it's just something I'll have to do.

In conclusion

Although my return to FFXI was sudden and unplanned, I knew I needed to make a plan quickly. It is easy to get overwhelmed by this game. Once I understood that it was nostalgia that had bought me back to FFXI and I could concentrate on playing content from the era I am nostalgic about.

I think that explains why I'm finding it so satisfying.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Back to the Moghouse

It's been a good few months and I have enjoyed it.  I enjoyed most of my game time and did a fair few things I'm proud of.  However, what I didn't do was any of the things I had in mind to do when I started playing again.

Mainly this is because I didn't really have the time but it's mostly because I couldn't find the people to do it with.  Admittedly, I didn't work at all hard at finding people but who wants to work hard at a game?  Not me.  At least, not anymore.

On a more positive note I basically played PUP the entire two months.  I think the only time I geared another job was when I was going to do an Neo-Omega run (but I never ended up going because we couldn't find another SMN before I went for dinner.)

For me, that about sums up the state of the game at the moment.  It seems that FFXI has finally outgrown me.

So, once again I have hung up my Adargas and my clown outfit, oiled my automaton and put the Moogle out.


Monday, 20 August 2012


In case you don't know, this is the fish that swallows all the Shaper's Shawls laying about at the bottom of the estuaries in Vunkerl Inlet.  Why the other fish don't swallow them and why so many Shaper's Shawls are found in that water who knows?  Maybe a Gigas pirates captured the ship and it went down in the harbour?

Anyway, I understand that this fish is very hard to catch.  Firstly, the bait is a pain to get, secondly it's actually hard to land.  You can see a lot of people making the case that the difficulty warrants the current price tag of 1m.

That could be fair enough, but when there are 24 list for sale and none have sold for two days, supply has exceeded demand.  Usually that means the price will drop.

Let's see.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

What's in it for me?

My RL friends and I have put many hours into discussing why FFXI is so "addictive".

I just read this blog post and I wanted to share my thoughts.

I came back to Vandiel because I love the world.  I have yet to find another world like it and there is no MMO experience better than discovering a new world.  Whether it's your first time in a new MMO, the release of a new expansion or even a new update; the buzz of going to new places and even just discussing new features is unbeatable.

For me, I came back for Seekers of Adoulin.  I wanted to get myself in the best possible place to enjoy that experience.  When I think of SoA I think of new areas, mobs and stories to experience.  I don't think of what cool armour or weapons will there be to get.  Don't get me wrong, I love cool armour and weapons but I have never enjoyed getting a piece of armour as much as I enjoyed fighting along side Excenmille and the Young Griffons or the time I crowned a fellow Puppetmaster Empress of the Empire.

I find FFXI compelling not addictive.  It's a page turner; I want to discover.

That's me.  There are others like me but it's a sliding scale; we're all a bit different.  I have, in the past, been like the adventurer who wrote that blog post.

When I read that blog post, I see the state of the world we live in reflected back in a game.  I see people who treat their friends as rivals and far from not wanting to miss out on an experience with friends, it's that they don't want their friends to get something they want and/or miss an opportunity to get it themselves.

Enter the achievement ranking system.  Now there is a way you can directly measure yourself against your friends!  What could be better for that sort of player?

Well, I've been that sort of player and do you know what you get out of it?  Nothing but bitterness.  When The Beatles said that "money can't buy you love" they could have just as equally sung "gear can't buy you friends". Oh, sure, people flock to people with gear thinking it will rub off on them, but they just as soon flock off when they realise it won't.

I can name a handful of people that I know for a fact are levelling crafts and jobs and completing missions for no other reason than they want their score to go up.  They're doing that right now, I can see them on my Guildwork feed.  I sometimes wonder when they will overtake me but do you know what? I'll never know because I switched that off months ago*.

These people aren't addicted to Final Fantasy, they're addict to the illusions of success that running the Rat Race brings and as such they can't help but make what should be a gentle pastime, and a break from real life, into a competition.

Personally, I don't need Scragg's algorithm to tell me what I have and haven't achieved.  I know exactly in my mind's eye what it is I want: there's a character I want Dibble to be and, although I haven't fleshed out all the details, that's what I am working towards.

That's what an RPG is all about and that's why I enjoy the game.

* You can switch it off too. Look:

Diary of Burgeoning Beastmaster


In my last post I mentioned that I was going to level Beastmaster "old school".  Well, that's exactly what I set  off to do.  Beastmaster has some great guides for solo but they don't really cover Fields or Grounds of Valor and since the current trend is 1-30/Abyssea/30-99 they haven't been updated much.

In some ways this felt like a stumbling block but in others it gave me an opportunity to break some new ground.

My Beastmaster was already 25 from previous pootlings so I had a good headstart.  I have also kept a store of decent 20-30 gear on a mule for about the last 2-3 years so I got up and running very quickly.  You really can't beat a Destrier Beret either.  Great piece of gear.

Getting into Abyssea (1-30)

I, like may people I guess, have a lot of experience of getting from 1-30.  Usually, if I was levelling a job to burn in Abyssea, I would go something like:

East Sarutabaruta (anything that moves)
Tahrongi Canyon (Page 3, 4 and 5)
Buburimu Penisula (Page 1)
Valkurm Dunes (Page 3)

I normally switch to Valkurm at the end because Snippers and Flys are so plentiful.

Since I was already 25 on BST I started out a little differently.

Buburimu Penisula (25-30)

Dates: 27th-28th July
Pets: Zu, Crawler, Dhalmel
Targets: Crawler and Dhalmel (Page 3)

I can't exactly say why I didn't go straight to Valkurm, maybe I just wanted to stay closer to home?  This went great except for some blood aggro, the undead are still a serious handful below Even Match!  In one case I just set a pet on them and logged off.  I found Zu to be the best pets here, I think mainly because their TP moves do some nice damage and they have good evasion.

Outer Horotoro Ruins (30-33)

Dates: 29th-30th July
Pets: Tiger Familiar
Targets: Sixes (Page 3)

I don't know why I came here and I don't recommend it.  There are 6 pops for the Cardians but they're shared so you could wait ages for the right Six to finish your page. Not much else to say.

Maze of Shikrami (33-40)

Dates: 31st July
Pets: Bats and Crawlers
Targets: Bats and Crawlers (Page 4)

I can't recommend this place highly enough.  Yes, I did have some 100% bonus exp rings but these levels flew by.  You can just kill everything in sight!

I actually entered from Tahrongi Canyon but the best place to enter is Buburimu side.  This puts you right next to the target mobs and there is a great camp at (L-8) or even in the tunnel where you enter.  Some of the gobs might pose a challenge when you first arrive.  I got 17-20k an hour here but at 39 many of the bats were Too Weak.  Time to move on!

Sea Serpent Grotto (40-45)

Dates: 31st July - 1st August
Pets: Bats and Leeches, Tiger Familiar
Targets: Bats and Leeches (Page 1)

Another great spot.  You can camp in the tunnel between the Grounds Tome and the zone and you're aggro free.  Do be careful not to accidentally zone out and lose your prowesses, though.  I did that once. At level 44 I was still getting 15k and hour with a normal 50% exp ring.  Some opportunities to {Team up?} too.

Garlaige Citadel (45-55)

Dates: 2nd-9th August
Pets: KeenEared Steffi, Saber Silvarde, Coldblooded Como, Bats and Beetles
Targets: Bats and Beetles (Page 2)

I am came here at 45 on the advice of an LS mate and it was too early.  Fights were slow and left both me and my pets pretty battered and I had a choice to /heal or burn through Jugs like Justin Bieber burns through hair gel.  Started to improve at 47 so I don't advise coming here before that.

You can pretty much camp anywhere between the zone and the first gate.  However, if you didn't exp in Garlaige back in the glory days you should be cautious of a) linking Wingrats from adjoining rooms b) getting blood aggro from the undead and c) falling down holes.

I should highlight here that, up until 50, I was /DNC.  By 50 I realised that it was frankly useless.  I wasn't dual wielding and Curing Waltz I is lame.  At 50 I took a break to restock and sell my spoils (Beetle Shells don't stack) and at that point I switched to /RDM.  There really is no good reason not to sub a mage job when doing GoV.  The Refresh from the book is more than enough to keep you going and you can save a few tabs doing your own Protect and Shell.

I also made good use of Dia, Paralyze and Blind and the extra damage from Enspells was a real bonus.

At 53 I was getting 20k/ph with just an Emperor Band.  If you can log off and on as and when your charges are ready you could easily net 60k in 3 hours over 3 days.

Moving on

I've decide that being within 10 levels of the Max Level for a GoV page is the sweet spot.  You should be 5-6 levels above the target level at that point. If you come any earlier, yes, you might get a nice DC pet you can Familiar but fights will be longer.  Chaining super Easy Prey is the way to glory in GoV.

The next places I am considering are: Labyrinth of Onzozo, Crawler's Nest, Sea Serpent Grotto and finally Gustav Tunnel. All have a suitable 45~49 (65 cap) page with some easy to handle mobs.  Gustav Tunnel is looking like a good choice, I know exactly where those mobs are and there is lots of space to maneuver.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Time is not what it used to be...

I've been back playing for a nearly a month and I've come to a few conclusions.

I've realised I can't set aside any time for regular LS events and anything I do with a group will have to be agreed and arranged in advance!  Sunday evenings is pretty much my only totally free time.

That means no Voidwatch and no Neo-Nyzul (unless I get something booked in for Sunday evenings).  I can't even really do PUGs as they invariable take ages to get started.  My windows of opportunity are very small!

This has forced me to seriously reconsider what I can actually achieve in the game and thus what I actually want out of it.

It seems the best way forward for me is solo and crafting; both of which I really enjoyed but were always a sideline from doing things in groups.  Now gil is not so hard to come by there's plenty of opportunity to enjoy taking a craft to high levels too.

I've also decided to level Beastmaster "Old School".  At least, as old school as you can be with Grounds of Valor to play with.  So far it's going very well but I'll post separately about that.

I'd played BST in the past with some fond memories but once I played PUP it was hard to enjoy BST.  You have so much control over your automaton it's hard to get used to playing with what is, effectively, a dumb animal.  However, Ready has been added since I last played BST and that does make playing with jugs much more fun.  Play style is very different from PUP too.  PUP is all about minutiae and control, BST is much more blunt and while it does require some finesse, generally the "keep throwing pets at it" approach will see you through.  I guess that's why they added Deus Ex Automata, to partially redress the balance, but a fresh jug or newly charmed pet is more than a match for a weakened Automaton.  At least outside Abyssea.

BST is also attractive because, like PUP, your gear is your own business.  My jobs have never had the very best gear but I always felt they were pretty good but since the cap went up I've slowly fallen further behind the curve.  I had wanted to catch up some on all my jobs but since most of jobs only see use in groups and... well, I won't be doing many groups, that would really be gear for the sake of gear, which has always seemed dumb in my book.

The new plan feels good.

Monday, 23 July 2012

AH Shenanigans

So, some weird stuff happened this weekend.

I am levelling Leathercraft off to 60.  I know the cap is 70 but that doesn't affect me yet.  As you may know the main way to get from 50-60 starts with Raptor Mantles.  The mantles don't stack and so it can be a real inventory killer.

A lot of people are levelling crafts at the moment and as a result there is a surfiet of most skillup items on the AH.  I NPCed a bunch of my Mantles for a minor loss but decide I could make a bit more money from undercutting the 5k Mantle price down to about 2k.  I'm not proud of this.  I only sold two.

Yesterday, Raptor Skins were so cheap you could NPC the Mantles for 1280g and still make a profit.  I checked the AH and there were 9 Mantles listed.  All at 1k.  Seems the market didn't recover from my little escapade.

So, I bought the lot made about 2.5k.  Then I put the last one back up for 4k.  And it sold.

Karma nearly caught up with me when I accidentally listed 12x Tiger Leathers for 6k - luckily they still sold for the asking price!

Monday, 16 July 2012

I'm back too!

So, my first week back has been fun.

I played a bit more than I should have yesterday but that's a lesson learned.  mainly it was just nice to be chatting to people.

Before I started playing again, rather than make a "To Do" list, I made a manifesto: what I would and wouldn't do if I played again.

It's not taken long for me to be dissatisfied with those modest aims I set out in my manifesto.  Everyone one and their brother is doing a relic and, for some reason, it got me thinking I should do one too.

I shouldn't because the only job I have worth getting one on is NIN and I'll never get to play it anyway.  Then I had the idea of levelling another job in order to get a worthwhile relic.  Then I was thinking about all the gear I'd need...

Oh, how quickly you fall into those same old traps!

Regardless of which job and which relic I got I won't have the playtime to enjoy using it.

So, having got over that, my manifesto still looks good except for one thing.

I'd decided I would pretty much shelf NIN because that "market" is flooded and I wanted to focus on BLM and PUP.  However, I won't really get to be a BLM outside of group stuff (which will be limited part of my play time), so it makes no sense to put lots of work into BLM.  Instead I have decided that I'll keep PUP as my main focus but put BLM and NIN, along with WHM, on an equal footing for group play.

Also, I forgot how much I was enjoying trying to 100% Abyssea.  That's back on the menu of things to do.