The Vana’diel Diaries (July 2006)

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Finnegan: 23 RDM, 15 WHM
Gaelan: 10 WAR

I’ve been playing FF XI for better than 60 days now, and while I am playing quite a bit, I don’t feel “addicted” per se. However, I checked my total playtime earlier this week, and am standing at about 5.5 days. If you extrapolate this to cover a calendar year, it comes out to roughly a month spent playing FF XI over a 12 month period.

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By comparison, I will have spent about 82 24-hour days at work. Commuting to and from said day job is another week. I cashed in roughly 16.5 days gaming with friends, and somewhere around 3.5 months sleeping. That makes me feel a little better about my 30 days spent in Vana’diel.

The leveling is slowing WAY down, which I suppose is to be expected. Over this two week period I’ve only picked up three levels for Finn and two for Gaelan. Assuming this trend continues (three levels every two weeks), I won’t hit 75 RDM/37 WHM for better than a year.

Enough math. Game on!


New Concepts:

The /inv flag: When a player is searching for a party, he enters the command /invite (or /inv). This flags him as looking for a party to join so that those forming parties can more easily track down members.

Unlocking jobs: Once a character has brought one job up to level 30, he can go on quests to “unlock” advanced jobs. I’m currently considering unlocking the advanced job Summoner (SMN), but Corsair (COR) and Blue Mage (BLU) aren’t without appeal.


June 13

So I devoted last night to the horrible Chocobo Quest. This quest isn’t dangerous or difficult; it requires no complex thought or luck. It’s just long. And boring. And stupid. And it demonstrates a complete lack of imagination on the part of Square Enix.

You need four clumps of this grass that Chocobos eat. After talking to the Chocobo wrangler and some of his stable employees, you attempt to feed the Chocobo. It refuses the first time. You have to wait one in-game day (about an hour of real-time) and try again. And again. And again. And again. And again. (I got to a point where I would log on, feed the bird, log off and watch Simpsons reruns for an hour.) Finally the freakish beastie starts taking the grass from you and eventually you establish a bond with it. The wrangler issues you a Chocobo license and now you can rent Chocobos!

No longer will I tread through dangerous areas. I’ll simply ride on through, thumbing my nose at the monsters that used to aggro on me. Eat my dust, bitches! This is pretty cool, but I burned an entire night of gaming doing this incredibly annoying little non-quest.


June 14

This level 20 stuff kinda sucks. I sat around with the /inv flag up in Jeuno for an hour today, hoping to get a party into Qufim. Not one hit on the line. Not long ago, Kiterunner told me WHMs get invites like nobody’s business…I guess the same isn’t true for RDMs. I figured since I had the free time, I’d go pick up all the maps of the surrounding areas and auction some stuff. At the very least I made a little money and stocked up on maps.

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Seigrune has been stomping around the Juengar Forest solo, killing monsters that would swallow me whole. She says it’s dangerous, but the XP is awesome. I’m hoping we can duo in that place sometime, because Qufim has been kind of a let down and I don’t want to sit at 20/10 forever. Maybe it’s time to let Finnegan sit on the shelf for a few days and devote some time to getting Gaelan raised up.


June 16-18

Playing Finnegan continues to be frustrating. Every FAQ ever written dictates that level 20 is time to go to Qufim Island and party from there. I don’t know who wrote those multitudes of FAQs, but I think maybe they were all high when they wrote that part.

I cannot BUY a party invite on Qufim. After sitting around with the /inv flag up for about four or five hours over the course of the weekend, I have had a total of one, which was rescinded almost as quickly as it was offered with a vague apology attached. Get bent, pal. Trying to form a party of my own is like pulling teeth—even people with the /inv flag up aren’t interested for one reason or another. All of you, get bent.

This led me to play Gaelan, and I did little but rage about West Ron to pick up 9th and eventually 10th level. That’s good, but it just wasn’t that interesting, and not really that fun. I’m glad I tried the WAR, and I’ll probably keep Gaelan around, but I just have a lot more fun playing the RDM/WHM.


June 19

First off, the DS Lite fully owns. Even if Big Brain Academy says my brain weight is dramatically below average, and I’m still having trouble consistently breaking par in True Swing Golf, it’s still a kickass little machine.

And back to the real news. FINALLY, Finn got an invite to a party—a good one. The walk through Qufim Island to the good camps is dangerous as hell. I used the spell “Sneak” the whole way across, absolutely terrified that a giant, dancing weapon, bat or other beastie would aggro on me. Made it across alright and joined my party.

We mostly stuck to Clippers (the next rung up on the crab ladder) and Giants. Kai says it’s best to stick to land worms for XP, but there were so many groups camped on the land worm spawns it just wasn’t an option. Anyway, Clippers are just crabs, but the Giant effects are really something. They look great, and really give a sense of being huge, broad, muscular and downright intimidating. Some of them even chuck these huge boulders from distance, which is pretty damn cool.

Two hours later, I had 21st RDM. w00t! I died once on a complete fluke…just total bad luck that a Light Elemental spawned in a kind of unusual site. Elementals usually don’t aggro unless you cast a spell near them…which I did. I was down in three hits.

I hope this is a turn for the better on Qufim, as I’d been getting pretty discouraged with sitting on my ass for hours on end. Kai says evenings just aren’t a good time to get parties at Qufim. Here’s to hoping he’s wrong.


June 20

Qufim is starting to roll now. After about 15 minutes of sitting around with the /inv flag up, I got an invite. This party wasn’t as organized as my previous one; when I joined it was four spellcasters and no melee types. Finally we wound up with three spellcasters and three melee types. It was go time.

I hate Dancing Weapons. Seriously. The name is hardly representative of the creature—we’re talking about this big, kind of blobby, mottled, bipedal thing with a sword spinning above its head. Anyway, one of them aggro’d on a group member as we tried to sneak through the area (“its cool fin i dont need sneak”—famous last words). Being good party members, we tried to help him out for a bit before deciding, too late, that it was time to zone. Even after hitting the DW with the spell ‘”Gravity” he caught up to each of us and killed all of us, save one lucky person who made the zone.

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The good news is our second go went much more smoothly. We stuck to Tunnel Worms, which aren’t quite the XP that Clippers and Giants are, but are much less hazardous to your health. I made it about halfway to 22nd.

Healing is becoming more and more a big part of my role in the party. Cupkeeki says that RDM/WHMs can actually be superior healers due to the RDMs Fast Casting ability. I don’t mind healing, but I think I prefer the bombing of enfeeblement-type spells.


June 21

No real news from Vana’diel today, except I did get a slick little geek toy. The Vana’diel clock arrived at my doorstep this afternoon. This completely useless little gadget displays the Earth time and Vana’diel time, along with the day, date, and phase of the moon on Vana’diel.

It features multiple timers for things like ferry arrivals/departures, guild shop hours, and even countdown timers for special job abilities. The alarms it plays are the four “anthems” of the four major kingdoms (San d’Oria, Windhurst, Bastok and Jeuno). Yes, it’s a little geek toy, but dammit, I heart my Vana’diel clock.


June 22

Jeuno’s a little hard to navigate—the map’s not that easy to read for a geographically challenged person like myself, and all those stairs and levels don’t make things easy. Still, I managed to pick up this new black tunic (which makes Finn look a bit more wizard-y) and started carrying around a wand instead of a sword. The wand improves INT and MND, both of which are good (in one way or another) for spellcasters. I also picked up a few spells which I was sorely lacking (and am now broke again, thanks—time to get back to doing some crafting).

Last night’s party was a little convoluted. Our puller was over aggressive—she would pull a monster while we spellcasters were flatlined on MP. I think some melee-types just don’t get that MP is finite, and when it’s gone we have nothing to contribute. This hag actually got on us for not getting into melee. Then the party leader, a BLM/WHM, kicked her from the party. Heh…serves you right, crazy bitch.

To compound our troubles, our tanks didn’t seem to know exactly what they were doing. They were slow to provoke and too interested in landing skillchains (something I still haven’t gotten the hang of). On the good side, I didn’t die (thank GOD for the spell Gravity and camping near a zone), and I’m only about 1,500 XP from 22nd level.


June 23-25

This was one of those weekends of ultimate highs and subterranean lows. While I didn’t get to play any Friday, Saturday was some of the greatest runs I’ve ever had. I got in with two top-flight parties back-to-back and picked up truckloads of XP. I blasted right through 22nd RDM into 23rd. Huzzah!

And then it crashed into crap Saturday night. I sat around doing a whole lot of nothing Saturday night for a while before deciding I was tired of not getting parties. So I hopped a Chocobo and rode home (I heart Chocobos so very much). Back in San d’Oria I did a bit of crafting and then brought on Gaelan.

Gaelan’s at a place where he’s getting crap for XP when solo’ing (because I’ve found solo’ing anywhere remotely challenging to be extremely hazardous to his health), but he’s just too low a level to find a party. This makes playing him extremely tedious. Thanks to one death, I’m sitting just a few hundred XP over 10th level with a couple thousand to go before 11th. Yawn.


June 26

I chucked a sickie today after feeling out of sorts in the morning, which allowed me to catch up on some much needed sleep and rack up some good time in Vana’diel. While I didn’t quite reach 24th level, I did pick up three extremely valuable little items.

Background: There are three main races of “Beastmen” in Vana’diel. The Orcs hang around San d’Oria (Sandy rules!), the Quadav lurk about Bastok, and the Yagudo stake their claim around Windhurst. Each race has a stronghold, which contains tons of the beasties.

More Background: The nicest, safest, and fastest way to travel around Vana’diel is via airship. To ride the San d’Oria, Bastok and Windhurst airships, you have to earn Rank 5 in the city by performing missions (Finn is Rank 2, Gaelan is 1). However, the airship to Kazham requires you retrieve a special key from each of the above strongholds. The keys are A BITCH to get. Sakuretsu and XDalamar helped me out a great bit, and I owe them huge, but after four hours of hunting I had all three keys.

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Seigrune is leveling up Thief (THF), and I must confess I’m super-glad to hear it. THFs get the ability Treasure Finder, which increases the drop rate of goodies from slain monsters. Since I’m going to eventually need the Carbuncle Ruby to unlock SMN, I’ll probably enlist her help. Rock on, Seig!

I joined a secondary LinkShell called the AlBhed Primers (Final Fantasy X shout out!). I love my mates in FruitBatRevenge, but too often I pop online to find not a single soul on FBR, whereas ABP has people on at all hours. I should have more to report on Blacksabre, Vercetti, Sharrif, Fatcharlie and all the rest soon.

Looking forward to finishing up 24th level tonight on Qufim. I hope.


June 27

LostMagic for the DS is starting to show signs of a game that was a very cool idea on the drawing board, but just wasn’t executed well. I hate that. Mostly I hate that I shelled out $30 of cash and trade on a mediocre game.

More traveling for Finn. Damn, but I hate traveling. I took a Chocobo from Windhurst to Mhaura (which is a hell of a trek through lots of curvy and maze-like mountain passages) and hopped the ferry bound for Selbina. Windhurst is nice—it reminds me of the Shire from the LotR trilogy…all lush and green and woodsy. It’s also filled with NPC Tarutaru who speak this annoying, cutesy baby-talk. “Welcome to my weapons-beppons shop-shop!” ARGH!

Anyway, back to the ferry. The coolest thing happened—pirates attacked the ship! It was awesome! And then they killed me. Which sucked. I have learned the lesson that hiding in the hold when the pirates rear their ugly heads is both cowardly AND smart.

I popped back in Mhaura and went for another hop on the ferry…this time, no pirates. I’m in Selbina and should make it back to Jeuno tomorrow. I doubt I’ll find a party to make the push to 24th…that’ll have to wait until the weekend.


June 28

…or not! 🙂 Blacksabre from the AlBhed Primers and I met up in Qufim after 40 minutes of running and riding from Selbina back to Jeuno. Very graciously he hunted Acrophies (these ugly little blobby leeches) with me, and after taking down about 20 of the beasties I have the Carbuncle Ruby! w00t! This ruby allows me to touch off the quest to unlock the SMN quest. Even though I can’t “officially” start the quest until level 30, I’m ready to start the minute I hit 30th. Thanks a ton, Blacksabre! My new linkshell rocks!

(Not that I don’t love my FruitBats…nothing but love for the FBR!)

After obtaining the ruby, I sat about for about 20 minutes hoping to track down a party. I hunted tunnel worms with a Bard (BRD)/BLM named Hans for a bit…maybe a better way to kill time than sitting around, but not much better. Finally I got an invite, but I had to play main healer – a role I’m still getting the hang of.

A bloke named Breuklen was kind enough to offer me some tips about using the “Regen” spell in addition to healing while we ripped up Pugils and Clippers on Qufim Island, and I really think I’m improving in the main healer role. The awesome news is this party was hot, and I shot right through 24th level into 25th! 30th is IN SIGHT! It’s completely feasible that I’ll make 30th in the next two weeks, and that rocks.


Next time: More adventure on Qufim Island and Kazham as I continue the push to 30th and the eventual unlocking of the Summoner job!

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Steve Hamner is a former staff member from GameCola's early days as a monthly email newsletter.

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