The Vana’diel Diaries (September 2006)

Some might say I'm foundering a little, that I'm going back and forth with no real direction. They might not be wrong. I've leveled four basic jobs and three advanced. Seigrune said something after I

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San d'OriaSome might say I’m foundering a little, that I’m going back and forth with no real direction. They might not be wrong. I’ve leveled four basic jobs and three advanced. Seigrune said something after I mentioned to her how much I enjoyed RNG: “I’m glad you’ve found your calling.” Easy to say when you’ve been playing Paladins since you could roll dice. 😉

For those of you just joining, my character is Finnegan, a Tarutaru out of San d’Oria on Bismarck (the most rockin’ server in the universe!). Send me a tell sometime, I’d love to hear from you.

(Congrats to Arbiter, who finally wrapped up the avatar Fenris. I’m totally jealous.)


July 30

 

First and foremost, today is my birthday. Let us speak no more of it.

Only got a couple hours in yesterday afternoon, but it is beginning to look like my fast track to Ranger and Corsair just got a little longer. WAR/WHM just isn’t a viable party class, and even though I dinged 10th WAR going solo, it’s going to get exponentially more difficult (and time consuming) to pick up levels playing without a party.

So, with that in mind, I traded in the axe, shield and crossbow for a pair of cesti and joined the ranks of the Monk (MNK). I am so NOT feeling this job. Maybe higher level Monks are more fun (I only made 3rd level yesterday), but I’m really not enjoying it that much. Sincerestjokerx suggested taking it to 10th, then partying WAR to 20th, then moving on. I might solicit another opinion or two, but I’ll bet that’s about the score.


July 31

 

The good news: even though the front door to my happy little townhome is just 100 feet from a raging torrent of floodwater, I got some gaming in. Oh, and our house didn’t float away. That’s good too.

I took advantage of the early release from the office to get some real work done in Vana’diel. With a great deal of PL help from Sincerestjokerx (thanks Joker!), I have MNK raised to 10. I’m SO done with that job. The funny thing is it was actually starting to get interesting at 9th level – I hit hard and often, and even the first Hand-to-Hand weapon skill, Combo, was hitting for circa 100 points. I’ve never done that kind of damage before.

The long and the short of it is Tarutaru were not meant to be MNKs. The job is too STR dependent and we’re not properly pumped up for such things. It’s time to move on. I retired the bronze harnass bondage gear (hopefully for good), donned the scale mail and switched jobs to WAR (with MNK as a subjob). A week or two in Valkurum is next on the agenda, with a possible break in the middle to put on the RDM pants and make 31st or 32nd. My goal is to have made 20th WAR and unlocked RNG by August 15.

Finally, I think Rithirin and his fiance have hit the rocks. They were having one heck of a blowout yesterday. Rather foolishly, I tried to play the peacemaker and didn’t help much. I wish the two of them luck, but I wouldn’t bet on them making it down the aisle.


August 1

 

Even though last night wound up being a fairly decent outing, I’m beginning to think I’ll just take WAR to 15th for the time being before proceeding to RNG and then COR. I learned two things about the job that make it dramatically less appealing:

1) Tarutaru WARs are the geeky kid you invite to your party simply because you’re feeling sorry for them or you absolutely, positively need someone to bring ice and there’s no one better around.

2) In party, I’m not very good at the job. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of when to Provoke when DD’ing. I don’t have the HPs to be an effective tank, so I can’t just spam Vokes. I have to hold onto them for that dangerous time the mob decides the mages have pissed him off long enough and I just don’t quite have the timing down yet.

After nearly 30 minutes of sitting on my scale mail-clad ass last night, I got an invite. I partied up with Ceysun, Matevo, Huurai (later Compound), Webster and Moroboshi. We slugged it out at the office (AKA Valkurum Dunes) for a few hours. I pushed through to 12th level, and it’s hard to be dissatisfied with a two-level night.

The Fruit Bats were on for a few hours. I have missed Kaizersan and Cupkeeki. Kai’s leveling NIN and Cup is busy becoming the Masaharu Morimoto of San d’Oria (Iron Chef Vana’diel!). I got a little ‘come-back-to-the-flock’ vibe from Kai, and I’m not quite sure how to tell him those days are over. Kai and Cup got me to Bismarck, taught me to swim and helped me through that difficult first few month or so. I’m indebted to them.

But I’m not going anywhere. I have all kinds of love for Kai and Cup, but I like my new home. I hope they understand.

My future subjob angst continues. Amiraphe has suggested subbing NIN when I unlock and start playing RNG, citing the NIN’s dual-wield ability as a big asset. I’ll be the first to admit she knows waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more about the game than I, but NIN just holds no appeal for me. COR/RNG is my destination – a pirate’s life for me.


August 2

 

There’s a country-western song about windshields and bugs that I recall hearing at some point in the early 90s. Not that I’m a big fan of ballads about lost loves and stolen pickups, but that song was strangely apropos to last night’s adventure.

I’d /shutdown in the office (AKA Valkurum) the night before and picked up an invite within five minutes of going in-game. Nice. The bad news was this party just never came together. I was in with AKAthemommy (another parent – kind of nice to see), Gumbo (later Warmage), Besu, Chilis and Gothika. I was the only WAR which meant I was tanking, and I was overconfident enough to think I could pull as well. Which was wrong.

In my own defense, I was going into two roles I’ve never played. Tanking is pretty straightforward, but there really is an art to pulling. I was just all kinds of clumsy. It sounds simple enough on paper: Find a mob, Provoke it, Run back to the party and Waste it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? Ha. Even with the gracious Setsuni PL’ing for some of the night, my rookie pulling wound up drawing two linking mobs and being indirectly responsible for the death of at least one party member. Combine that with a terrible camp and an unlucky pop and our party was dropping like flies.

I’d like to just shrug, apologize for my error and offer a vague, “It’s the Dunes, what are you gonna do?” – that’s all quite true. Still, I can’t help feeling like a heel about it. Setsuni raised each one of them as they went down, which was awfully nice of her, but the party just wasn’t going anywhere. I did manage to push to within about 500 xp of 13th, but after my third death of the night I’d had enough front lining.

Blacksabre, Verrcetti, Setsuni and myself (along with a few valiant non-Blackwinders) jumped into some level 30-something attire and went at Garliage Citadel shortly thereafter. Garliage is tough, and we were in a bit over our heads. While I did make 1000 very quick xp, it was just too much for us to handle. I feel a lot better about playing RDM – I’ve got an idea of what I’m doing and am confident I contribute to the cause.

Taking a break tonight, but since I’m back in Jeuno, I think I’ll go ahead and trek to Windurst to unlock RNG on Friday. No time like the present, and after last night a short break from the point-and-whack would be welcome.


August 4

 

One thing last night really brought into sharp relief is how badly I need to get San d’Oria rank 5. I’m getting really tired of choco’ing for 15-20 minutes at a stretch when I need to get from country to country. Rank 5 is the gateway to an airship pass, and that’s the only way to fly.

Last night started in Jeuno, so I figured I’d go ahead and do the Ranger quest. I choco’d alllllllll the way to Windurst to meet with some crazy, tree-hugging Mithra. She charged me with bringing back the fang of an old tiger…or something like that. Another long choco ride alllllllll the way back to Sauromogue Champaign (just outside Jeuno) eventually led me to a little cave guarded by these really fierce looking tigers…I’m choco’ing, so they’re powerless to munch on me. Siegfried says heel! No bitey!

Eventually the old tiger lumbers into the cave and just dies. I was expecting a rather dramatic cutscene, with a deep, moving score and really artsy cinematography that would stir the emotions of even the most stoic of adventurers. Never happened. The tiger walked in, stood there a moment, and died, leaving me a fang. Meh. I feel shortchanged. In any case, I choco’d back to Windurst and voila! I am a Ranger!

Now comes the hour of my discontent. I took the ferry from Mhaura back to Selbina, and on the way decided I’d try a little deep-sea fishing. It went okay for a while; I landed a few fish and was enjoying the zen of man-against-fish. Until I landed a Sea Horror, that is. This freakishly huge leviathan-looking beast kicked my ass almost instantly. That’s bad.

A kindly SMN/WHM named Hello raised me, and THE VERY INSTANT I was on my feet the Sea Horror attacked me again and killed me. I never had a chance. Hello’s a prince of a guy, but maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer. This time he sicked Carbuncle on the Horror prior to raising me. I bolted for the cargo hold and safety.

Back in San d’Oria, I got a great deal on a Shortbow +1 while gearing up for Ranger. I even went as far as crafting some of my own arrows. Fully strapped and WAR subjob in place, I sallied forth into East Ron and picked up level 2 right before turning in last night (at 4 AM). I’ll probably continue working on the job for a while.

Seigrune from Blackwind unlocked PLD last night and did the same. We’ll be able to duo these jobs up for a while, and I’m really looking forward to that. There’s a Blackwind meeting this afternoon. Not sure of the topic, but I’ll get to show off my new Rangerness, and that’s kinda cool.

And finally, I folded and bought the expansion Chains of Promathia last night, opening up a whole mess of new missions and events I can get in on. I’m excited about it – Blackwind does a lot of Promyvions (don’t ask – I don’t know) and I’m completely psyched about joining in.


August 5

 

Solo XP’ing from about levels 5 through 10 gets to feel a lot more like work. A body spends a lot of time resting between series of engagements, a lot of money constantly gearing up, buying food, restocking ammunition, and lot of patience with the game.

BTW, there’s a CHOICE piece of gear I’m drooling over for level 11 called Leaping Boots. Jeuno Auction House has them for the bargain rate of 1,000,000 gil. That’s a lot of moat carp and sheep leathers.

The good news is Rangers begin to really rip through what East Ronfaure has to offer at 5th or 6th level, each shot doing between 20-30 points of damage. The WideScan ability makes hunting down clusters of mobile XP chunks (AKA monsters) easy, and I totally am feeling the Legolas thing. I’m up to 8th level – a few more and it’s time to go back to the office (AKA Valkurum Dunes).

Blackwind held the monthly meeting. Aside from the frequent and somewhat disruptive (though often quite amusing) side comments, it was good. It sounds like we’re going to be establishing a firmer schedule for LS events, which is cool. I’ll probably miss this month’s Promyvions – it sounds like one needs to be 40th to really do them all. I guess I should bite the bullet and raise my RDM to 40, but it honestly doesn’t sound as fun as Rangering. Hopefully I’ll get in on the next set.


August 6

 

I hardly turned on the PS2 yesterday. In an hour or so I ran up about 1,000 xp in East Ron killing off the usual suspects, but it felt a lot more like work than play. In a way, I’m looking forward to returning to Valkurum – party play is, for the most part, a lot more fun than wearing the mantle of the lone wolf.

Blacksabre tipped me off that the level cap for the first PM is 30, so I can get in on that right away. If I didn’t despise Yhoator Jungle so much, I’d go to Kazham and get back to working up my RDM. I gotta find another place to XP that job. The mazes of Yhoator just serve to frustrate and humiliate.

Once I push my RNG to 15, Verrcetti and I are going to camp the NM that drops the Leaping Boots I’m all drooly over. It’s awfully nice of him to offer; I’m so taking him up on it. These boots are the Nike Air Jordans of the Ranger gear set; they are indeed what all the cool Rangers are wearing, and I wants me a pair.


August 7

 

More and more I begin to worry about how much Ranger is going to cost. While arrows and crossbow bolts are still pretty cheap, they’re going to start getting real expensive real quick. I’ve already had to upgrade my bow once with another upgrade next level, and I’ll have a crossbow upgrade just a few levels down the line. Ammunition takes up a crapload of space and flows like water.

To combat this, I’m trying to grind my Woodcraft skill as hard as possible. Yesterday I worked it to 2 simply by building hundreds of Wood Arrows, selling them at a loss, and repeating the process. It’s nice to have those to fall back on, but there are superior arrows that fire faster and do more damage available. I really need to raise this up. It’s going to involve building a lot of stuff I don’t really need (low-level wands, staffs and cheap furniture), which I’ll either donate to Blackwind (if anyone really needs it) or auction to try and recoup some of my costs.

Another day at the rat races. I picked up 9th level and a little change, and with any luck will finish 10th before the weekend. Then it’s off to Valkurum! I remember when I first took my SMN to Valkurum; I was excited about Carbuncle stomping the crap out of Hill Lizards and Goblin Butchers and it just didn’t work out that way. I wonder if I’ll experience the same kind of let-down with my Archery.

Frankly, I’ll be happy to make it through La Theine Plateau without the Battering Ram interfering.


August 8

 

The grind. After removing most of my gear and filling my inventory with crystals, lumber and various other crafting goodies, I set to woodworking last night. I synthed over 600 wooden arrows and a dozen units of maple lumber, only managing to crack Woodworking skill level 3. Ay caramba. I think I probably spent around 10,000 gil just buying materials, and wound up selling about half of my product for 2,200 or so. Chapter 11 business right there. Time to hit those moat carp again.

After an hour of crafting, I dolled up in some level 10 gear left over from my WAR days before heading to the Auction House. I bought my third bow (a Royal Archer’s Longbow) and second crossbow (a Legionnaire’s Crossbow) since I began this job. I also picked up a Hunter’s Longbow, which is a level 12 item, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to be prepared (that and I recently sold four stacks of moat carp and scads of crystals – fish for life!). I’m packing 600 arrows and 400 bolts – ten inventory slots right there. I can’t wait until I can use iron arrows and just quiver the damn things.

I /shutdown just after zoning into La Theine Plateau last night. Taking a break tonight – my daughter has a ballet recital which will most likely be the cutest thing in the history of the universe.

We had a new member join the Blackwind family last night: Strifer. Strifer’s entire family plays FF XI, which is just cool as hell. I joke that I need to hook my wife into playing, but it’s so not her thing. That and I’d have to fight with her for PS2 time, and no one wants that. Still, having an in-house support system like that is neat. “Hey Dad, you got time to help me finish this mission?” I love that.


August 10

 

First off, the Logitech Netplay Keyboard/Controller widget just doesn’t stand up. The keys are tiny and oversensitive, and the analog joysticks feel weird. PS2 players: get yourself a good USB keyboard and stick with your DualShock. I’m really glad the damn thing was only $10.

I had my first party experience playing my RNG last night, and I’m both ecstatic and relieved that it went pretty well. While my first party in Valkurum never got off the ground and quickly dissolved, I picked up a second invite almost immediately thereafter. Trekking from Selbina to the southeast side of Valkurum I aggro’d a goblin, whom I zoned with 2 HP remaining. Nothing like arriving to meet a party after a close shave like that.

So with Shironda, Neran and a few others, I went to work. Pulling went quite smoothly; I kept a few chains going and only pulled one link (which we were able to handle). Mindfreak from Blackwind kept an eye on us and tossed out some Cures when things went way south. We definitely would’ve had a few deaths if he hadn’t overwatched.

This area of Valkurum isn’t very hard to pull monsters – the hill lizards are freaking blind and the goblins usually leave a lot of room between one another. Sometimes the hardest part is beating other parties’ pullers to the punch. A ranged weapon makes that a little easier. I hope I didn’t piss anyone off too badly, but the little voice in my head is still chanting “neener-neener-neener.”

The RNG report card: I give it a B-. Amiraphe says that even at 10th level RNG’s are capable of doing considerable damage and she’s right: when I connected I was doing 20-25 points a shot with the bow and 10-15 with the crossbow (I gotta upgrade that damn thing). I just wasn’t hitting as much as I would’ve liked. About 25% of my shots hit the mark, which feels like a waste of ammunition, money and time. We had a lot of DDs, so my contribution (or lack thereof) wasn’t really missed, but I’m looking forward to being a bigger car in the ass-kicking train soon.

I dinged 11th, warped back to San d’Oria and called it a night. This evening is a wife-free/daughter-free version of the Red Bull diaries – I’d like to push to 13th.

One last thing: Sincerestjokerx from Blackwind is taking a break from Vana’diel, citing personal reasons. Joker’s a Dad like myself, and I have a great deal of respect for this decision. While it hasn’t become an issue for me yet, I can see how the game could affect the people surrounding the player. He has his priorities in the right place, and oftentimes that’s hard to do. Thanks for help along the way, Joker. I hope we see you back before too long.


August 11-13

 

I probably should write more frequently over the weekend while events are fresh in my mind. A few days later it’s hard to come up with anything beyond a kind of vague recording of what I think happened.

Friday night was another Red Bull diary (actually Mountain Dew MDX, to be precise) and I wound up playing later than I probably should’ve. My two parties in Valkurum netted a two-level night, even though I kicked over once. The second party had a commercial PL. One of the guys in our party was actually paying him 50k gil/hour for his PL services. I suppose it’s tantamount to selling a Teleport or Warp or Raise, but it’s still weird. The guy’s a 75 BLM/37 WHM – economically preying on us low level people doesn’t quite seem in the spirit of the game.

Then again, my party member was pretty happy to pay him and I made 13th, maybe I shouldn’t complain.

Saturday was an exercise in wheel-spinning. Which sucks. I died twice before finally accepting our tank either didn’t know how or didn’t care to Provoke. I ended the night about +500xp, which sucks for a 3 hour run.

Sunday was the crafting grind. I set out to run my Woodworking skill up to the point where I could make my own bone arrows. I must’ve whipped up 20 maple wands, a dozen lauan shields and another 20 ash poles before bringing my Woodworking to 7. Cooking up my own Bone Arrows is a piece of cake now. It took about 1.5 hours and a considerable chunk of cash, but I’m now whipping up my own Bone Arrows! w00t!


August 14

 

There are few things sweeter than taking a day off to sleep in, have a luxurious breakfast in front of some back episodes of Stargate SG-1 and follow it up with hours of FF XI. That’s good times.

I started the day levelling RNG in a rather lukewarm party. The group was nice and very friendly, but we weren’t picking up very good experience. I guess 13-14 are kind of tough levels…you aren’t really powerful enough for badass goblins and you can wipe the floor with Hill Lizards and Snippers. That party rapidly disintegrated and I moved on.

Next up I joined some Fruit Bats – Kaizersan, Cupkeeki, Brution and Erador (a good friend who has just started the game), along with Seigrune from Blackwind to go hit Ordelle’s Caves in La Theine Plateau. It went really well for me – my 13th level RNG was just ripping things up. The bad news is Erador was 8th level; I was just wrecking the XP for him. We experienced a near total party wipe after Kai pulled an Incredibly Tough Goblin Butcher (still trying to figure out what the hell he was thinking), and decided to rethink things.

I switched back to my 10th level MNK and we went at the Tomb in East Ronfaure. This was going pretty well, and I’m kinda starting to feel MNK. While I didn’t level, I’m within 600 of 11th if/when I go back to that job.

And now my day hits the high point, and hands-down the coolest thing I’ve done in FF XI so far. I slew a dragon. Not just me, of course; I had Blacksabre, Norleen, Mindfreak and Livetotank (all from Blackwind) riding shotgun, but it was AWESOME! San d’Oria Rank 3! I gotta get in on more major league battles like that, and that means raising my RDM…

…and that means raising my WHM so I have a full subjob for the Red Mage. I switched into the WHM gear for the first time in better than a month and choco’d to Valkurum. Nice thing about the WHM job, you never, ever wait for invites; I had one before I made it into La Theine Plateau. The party was decent, but kind of slow, and our puller had the misfortune to draw a Damselfly link. Total party wipe. Ugh. After a raise by Jedak I called it a night.

No levels on a full day of play is kind of disappointing, but I did get that dragon beat, and that was the best three minutes of Final Fantasy XI I’ve had so far. I can’t wait to go after some bigger game.


August 15

 

A friend of mine is teetering on the precipice of jumping into playing FF XI. I’m kind of excited for her – I think she’d have a lot of fun with it while really enjoying the social aspect of the game. She isn’t a hardcore gamer, so I’m concerned the learning curve might be a little steep and frustrating for a time, but with a little help I think she’ll have a blast.

More Valkurum last night. My party (consisting of Munkyhoang, Vyperhoang, Shami, Lilnipper and Iddo) parked on Sirens Sands to take on Snippers. It went really well until another party camped right on top of us. We politely asked them to move on: there are plenty of other camps and we were here prior to their arrival. Overcamping makes for bad xp all around and the battle spam is attrocious. They got ugly and pretty soon members of my party and members of the other group were trading pretty unpleasant barbs. Munky talked our group down after a while and we moved our camp to the Oasis.

I remarked how incredibly fucking rude this other group is, and how the hell could they not respect this most basic of playground conventions. Lilnipper’s response was, “Meh…the Dunes. What are you gonna do?” I can’t tell you how tired I am of this response. Even more frustrating is the fact that she’s right. I need to find another area where I’ll get timely invites and not have to deal with assclowns like this other party.

The silver lining is our camp at the Oasis was pretty profitable. I dinged 16th WHM just before calling it a night. I’d like to push this job to 25th before going back to RDM, but realistically I think I’ll only make 20th before I just can’t take WHM anymore. My goal is to make 20th by this time next week.


August 17

After a one-night break and a day full of IM’ing FF XI with Erador, I was so jonesing to play last night. I’ve been trying to remember the last games I was this jazzed for. Final Fantasy X would be one. World Soccer Winning Eleven 9 International definitely. I played a hell of a lot of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. However, none of the above were quite as involving as FF XI.

 

Enough prattle – let’s get a move-on! After finally doing the supply run to the outpost in the Valkurum Dunes yesterday, I trio’d with Erador from the Fruit Bats and Seigrune from Blackwind. We all have jobs in the early teens (myself playing RNG/WAR, Erador on his WAR and Seigrune testing the spellcasting waters with a BLM/WHM), so we decided to hunt around La Theine Plateau.

Stomping goblins, poison bats, poison funguar and mad sheep (mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore – baaaa!), I dinged 14th and change. Yay! Erador is really enjoying the archery aspect of playing WAR and is likely to unlock RNG as his first advanced job. I think he’ll really dig it – RNG really is a kickass job.

Speaking of which, I love ranged attacks more and more every day. Yesterday I was hitting the bush league stuff in West Ron for 70, 80, even 90 points a pop. I dropped Orc Grapplers and Goblin Thugs in one or two shots. It was glorious. The more powerful foes in La Theine Plateau were still taking between 30-50 points per strike, and I’m really starting to skill up both Archery and Marksmanship fast.

I still want to level WHM to 20 and move on to bringing up my RDM, but I really am having so much fun playing my RNG job that that plan might get put on the back burner…again.


August 18

 

Dying twice in the first thirty minutes is a bad sign. The cards are wrong tonight – turn off the PS2 and watch Stargate! For God’s sake, man, WATCH STARGATE!

Hell with that. I scoff at two deaths! There’s adventuring afoot!

I spent all evening trio’ing with Erador from Fruit Bats and Seigrune from Blackwind. Death number one came before we even really got started – Erador and I were lining up a Goblin when Seigrune comes barreling in with two Orcs in tow. I’m a little too fast and too stupid (although I think I’ll stick with too courageous) for my own good and wind up dying just before the second Orc Stonechucker falls. Bastard. Setsuni was kind enough to reattach my mortal coil and we were off again!

This time we made it into Ordelle’s, but after drawing every Stink Bat on Vana’diel (seriously…every one…there were millions) in an unlucky link, I died. Again. I’m always embarrassed when I have to pipe up that I’ve died…again…same place…only 20 minutes later. It doesn’t inspire confidence. Thankfully, Blacksabre stopped by with a raise and it was back to work.

We were joined by SilentTrain, a new member of Blackwind. ST and Blacksabre PL’d while Erador, Seigrune and I took on a chain of bats and crabs. Seigrune didn’t sound like she was having much fun during our free ride; I can understand that. She’s levelling WHM right now (a job she doesn’t care for in the first place, I believe) and playing healer with a PL can make a body feel like a fifth wheel (or third…or 19th…whatever you like). Myself, I like playing WHM with a PL – I can throw more Banishes and enfeebs and buffs instead of hoarding MP for heals. Some folks prefer sticking with their role. Which is why Rocky Road owns and Cherries Jubilee is vomitous.

Anyway, Seigrune called it a night early. Erador and I stayed on with SilentTrain and Blacksabre for another 20 or 30 minutes. I hit 15th and we made for Sandy. Erador and I wrapped up the night beating the crap out of orc in Ghelseba. My bow is just CRUSHING mobs now. Even Orc Stonechuckers and Neckchoppers were taking 50-60 points per shot. I love that.

Tomorrow I’m hitting Valkurum with SilentTrain’s SMN. I’d say 16th is almost a given and 17th could be a real possibility. I love the weekend!


August 19

 

After grinding out some Willow Fishing Rods and Ash Staves to bring my Woodworking to 9, I headed for the dunes. Valkurum really is different during the day (referring to day in North America, of course). The area was a ghost town. I think that’s kind of strange, because even during the darkest hours of night (again, North America) there are a half-dozen parties vying for good camps and mobs – at 11:00am I came across only two parties, one of which I eventually joined.

With Rizzi, Sohaltang and a few others, I fought Snippers and Damselflies from a camp I’d never used before. It worked out pretty well, but our puller wound up having to make a long run back to camp, which meant when he ran back into camp he was often quite beat up.

I ran into a little subjob fascism, an attitude that always agitates me even if I can kinda see where the subjob nazis are coming from. I offered to hunt down a replacement before logging yesterday, and the only person in our level range in the area with the flag up was a MNK/WHM. I mentioned this to the party and got “Hell No. WTF? total gimp sub. hes (sic) stupid.” Yeah, it’s not one of the more conventional subs, but why not at least give the guy a shot? I logged and left them looking – sorry about that guys.

I was only in for about an hour, but I picked up a good 1,500xp and should hit 16th next time I’m on. Today’s the 20th and I really had planned to concentrate on my WHM this week. My goal was to have had WHM at 20th by the day after tomorrow, but the call of the RNG is too hard to resist.


August 20

 

Just another meh day at the Dunes.

I trio’d with Erador and Seigrune for a few hours in the afternoon, the three of us taking on Hill Lizards and Goblins in southeast Valkurum. While this wasn’t a torrent of experience, I tallied 16th and it was just fun to hang out and BS with the two of them. Erador’s improving rapidly – he hit 16th yesterday and has possession of all his subjob items. I imagine he’ll be subbed up in no time. I need to drag him into a few xp parties.

Later that evening I joined Eagleeye, Yamame, Petroler and a few others at the Silent Sands beach in southwest Valkurum. It was absolutely empty – just beautiful for partying up for big xp (and no whammies). While we just ripped apart Snippers with impunity, Beach Pugils proved a problem. We took down two, with Petroler dying once, before I called it a night.

17th RNG is a stone’s throw away, and I’m extremely happy with how I was hitting last night. Both the bow and crossbow were connecting consistently. On average, I was doing as much damage as our BLM’s nukes. I’ve begun to hear rumors that RNG’s really start to fall off as the job hits about 60th level. Now I’m a heck of a long way from 60th, and my plan (for the time being – you know me and plans) is still to unlock COR and play that with RNG as my sub – maybe this won’t be a factor, but it’s still cause for concern.

COR has me a little worried too. Kaizersan suggested researching guns, so I took a look. Guns are pricey, but not too bad – bullets, however, are just insane. I’m currently paying about 3,000 for a stack of 99 Fang Arrows; the same amount of Bullets will run me four to five times that much. 99 bullets = 1 stack of moat carp…not good. I gotta skill up Woodworking to the point where it’s profitable or guns just won’t be an option.

Finally, today SquareEnix installs the feature which will allow characters to have their own Chocobo! I imagine they’ll include Choco racing, breeding, trading, whatever. SE promises lots of exotic colors and breeds, but I’ll be happy with a Chocobo that shows up when I need a lift and will get me from point A to point B. I don’t need a Ferrari – I need a Honda Civic.


August 21

 

The chocobo invasion has begun! It was all the talk on the linkshell channel last night, and I can’t help but get a little caught up in it – I want my own chocobo too! It sounds like the easiest way to take possession of a chocobo egg is a short ‘go-fetch’ quest in Jeuno, but I’ll probably wait until I get RNG to 20th before making the trip and going through with it.

Speaking of which, I had a great party last night with Manoamano, Wettkitty, Moralnight, Touyn and Gogobag. We had the north end of the oasis camp in Valkurum, hunting Snippers, Damselflies and Goblins. It went extremely well – no one was ever in any real danger and we absolutely obliterated everything that stood against us. I made 2,500 xp in the course of an hour, dinging 17th in the process. I only wish I could’ve stayed on; I’m confident I would’ve made 18th inside of another hour. Damn work.

Wettkitty (yeah, I know, it makes me giggle too) was another RNG of comparable level, subbing WHM. I can’t help but confess I had a secret little competition between the two of us going on in my head, and I was winning. She’d hit for 25, I’d hit for 35. She’d hit for 40, I’d hit for 60. She’d be nicking Snippers for 5-10, I’d be hitting them for 15 AND driving their Defense Down with Acid Bolts. I have better equipment (that Power Bow +1 is a MONSTER!), so maybe it’s not quite fair, but I still got a very immature little charge out of being the ‘better’ RNG.

Pretty soon here I’m going to have to bite the bullet and level up WAR from 12th to 15th. Not looking forward to it. I’d like to have RNG at 30th before unlocking and beginning COR. We’ll see how that goes.


August 22

 

You kill 16 Snippers, and whadda you get? Another day older and something that rhymes with get.

It’s another workmanlike day in Valkurum. My party (Azthugg from Fruit Bats, Moralnight, Mateo, Plasticfry and Dstizzle) tried out a camp I’d never visited before: the mysterious ‘Secret Beach’ (not to be confused with the ‘Secret Sands’ beach). It was really like any other beach area in Valkurum, except it was completely empty. Nice. The run to the camp is nasty though – filled with tight passages and aggressive monsters. Not cool. I think I’ll stick to the two more conventional beaches, overcrowding and all.

We beat up on Snippers, Damselflies, Goblins and one or two Beach Pugils. Tonight the experience was adequate, but not great. I picked up about 2,500 xp in about two hours, making level 18. That seems a little slow to me. Part of that might be due to my sluggish pulling; perhaps part due to the three deaths we had during our run that brought things to a screeching halt. I guess getting slow experience is better than sitting on one’s ass for two hours doing nothing.

Still, two levels until the pilgrimmage to Jeuno, the Choco quest and new hunting grounds on Qufim Island. I’m looking forward to that.

Kaizersan brought me a new toy: a Bandit’s Gun and 99 Bronze Bullets. I am underwhelmed by the damage, but it did look way sexy. Finn looks all badass drawing a rifle down on monsters. However, both my crossbow and bow outdamage the Bandit’s Gun anywhere from 3-to-1 to 5-to-1, but the higher level guns and bullets look like they can really dish it out. We’ll see.

Erador from Fruit Bats is a little frustrated with the game. Seigrune from Blackwind remarked that he perhaps came into Vana’diel expecting it to be an electronic version of a tabletop RPG – that it would be an experience where a static party of adventurers formed and worked together throughout the game – same people, level 1 through 75. It’s a big, deep game and time doesn’t really allow for that, not to mention one would miss out on meeting and playing with people from all over the world. I’m sorry he’s not wholly enjoying FF XI, but maybe it just ain’t for everybody.

Taking a break tonight – even grizzled Snipper-Hunters like myself have to go to PTA meetings.


August 23

 

PTA meetings suck. Seriously. 1:10 of my life spent planted on a little tiny kid’s chair being preached to about the merits of vegetarianism. I should’ve brought a really juicy roast beef sandwich.

That sounds good.

Anyway, I did squeeze a little time in-game last night. I spent the first half hour crafting, grinding Bone Arrows, Holly Lumber and finally Holly Poles. My Woodworking craft skill is up to 11. I gotta get this craft profitable and fast.

The next few hours I spent camping the infamous Leaping Lizard with Verrcetti from Blackwind. It was…uneventful. The damn thing never popped, so we never got a chance to mix it up with the lizard in hopes of picking up my own personal pair of Air Jordans (AKA the Leaping Boots). We’re gonna try again Saturday.

Erador might be turning around. Seigrune walked him into an xp party in Valkurum last night, and it apparently went very well. This is a good sign. If he can embrace the ‘team-play’ concept of FF XI, I think he’ll really enjoy it.


August 24

 

Even though I was on for a good two hours last night, I really didn’t get much done. That’s okay though – I got to hang out with Erador and help him further learn the ropes. I always feel like I’m paying back a little of that karmic debt I’ve accrued after so many free raises and heals from total strangers through my months playing the game when I help out people just learning the game. Anyway, he’s getting the hang of writing macros, and had his Provoke timing down during the time we duo’d lightweights in Valkurum.

Speaking of which, I think it’s closing in on the time to trek to Qufim. There was ONE level-compatible person with the flag up in the whole region; we were unable to build a party. Before I make the jump to Jeuno, I need to raise WAR to 15 (it’s currently flagging at 12). I may switch back to that job this weekend just to get it over with. Saturday I’m still on with Verrcetti from Blackwind to camp that accursed lizard for my Air Jordans, but otherwise I’ll be struggling to make 15th WAR…and then never again shall I play that job – it’ll go on the shelf for good.


August 25

Bawls was the energy drink of the evening (that’s good stuff there). I just can’t stay up beyond the witching hour without a little help. And honestly, what’s the point of weekends if not to stay up really late playing FF XI?

 

I spent the first 20-30 minutes in-game sitting in Selbina, hoping to build a party with Erador. After searching the region for level-compatible people with the flag up, it just became apparent it wasn’t going to happen. We agreed to put the flag up and go separate ways. I’m kind of bummed about that, I was looking foward to partying up with him. I got an invite shortly after…to Qufim. After a warp back to Sandy and a long Choco ride, I walked into Jeuno.

I love Jeuno. It’s like the New York City of Vana’diel. It’s big and highly-populated with all kinds of people. You can get just about anything at the Jeuno auction house, and there are NPC shops with tons of good stuff available. It may not be home, but it’s still a hell of a town.

It took this party another 15 minutes to get formed up; I wasn’t the only one making the long trek over. After slipping by the Dancing Weapons, Moralnightmare, Yke, Memee, Eltra, and I (along with some other very competent player whose name escapes me) camped Worms and KICKED ASS. In 2 hours I gained roughly 8,500 xp, rocketing my RNG job from early 18th level all the way into 20th! Qufim Island, I love ya! I’m confident that if this party wouldn’thave broken up due to exhaustion, I would’ve made 23rd by sunrise.

Today is my daughter’s birthday party (yes, I know, her birthday was a month ago) and I’m having to play goalie to a dozen pre-schoolers. Providing I’m not in need of a few stiff drinks and a nap after, Verrcetti and I are going to camp the Leaping Lizard – I still want my boots!!! Afterwards I’m going to do get my chocobo egg and, time permitting, make a push towards 21st. And somewhere along the line I need to bring WAR from 12 to 15. Still dreading that.


August 26

 

Days where just one good thing happens are kind of disappointing, especially when so many bad things come down the pike.

Good first: I finished out the chocobo egg quest. The quest consists of lots of back-and-forth between Jeuno and San d’Oria searching for the reason the chocobo have all gone crazy, and finally arriving at the conclucsion adventurers should help raise them. Yay! I have my own little pre-bundle of joy sitting in the San d’Oria Chocobo Stable, just waiting to hatch.

Bad: I got into two parties yesterday, and both were just awful. The first had a BLM who just didn’t know when to cool his jets. Nuke and nuke after nuke, he’d burn himself out of mana, draw way too much hate and eventually got himself killed twice (not to mention our tank once and myself once trying to save his ass). I tried a little gentle constructive criticism, but he wasn’t hearing me. Instead he proceeded to let us know how crappy we were at doing our job. Get bent, pal.

I was the tank in party number two (which is a bad idea from the start – Tarutaru WARs are still pretty squishy). I was voking and keeping the hate well enough, but our WHM would just disappear for minutes at a time. I mean in battle, he’d just stop casting heals. He had plenty of MPs, just wasn’t casting. I died twice before deciding this wasn’t for me. In 3 hours I managed to gain 31 experience points. 31. Bad day.

So taking a break today and back at it tomorrow – just gotta level this subjob.


August 29-30

 

Two days. Two big days. Being truly sick (not just *cough, cough* “Sorry, boss…can’t make it in…”) is never fun, but I play through the pain. That’s right. In sickness and in health, I game. All for you; I’m all about the readers.

As I had no interruptions and many hours to game, I got A LOT of good stuff done. First off, WAR IS DONE! YAY! After many frustrating nights trying to bring that job from 12th to 15th, it’s finally there! And it only took two hours! This rocks so hard, I can’t even begin to describe it. Many thanks to Setsuni from Blackwind for taking a little time to PL and raise when members of my party felt the cold, icy hand of virtual death. I know I’m probably not entirely done with this job; eventually I’ll need to raise RNG to 37 (more about this later) and that’ll mean I need three more levels of WAR, but for now it is so on the shelf.

After a switch into the RDM pants, I made my first trip to Aht Urhgan via the Tenshodo “organization” in Jeuno. I hate these bastards. The Aht Urhgan pass requires a “donation” of bunches of items or a VERY substantial payment. Being impatient and ornery, I wiped out my personal account, begged a small loan from a friend, and paid the fare…

…and the assclowns have the balls to roll me and toss me on the far end of the island – hordes of aggro creatures between myself and the city of Al Zhabi itself. Assmasters. I’d really like to say that one day I’ll wreak my unholy wrath upon them, but I doubt there are provisions in the game for that sort of thing. I hate being denied vengeance.

Employing my mad sneaking skills, I made it to Aht Urhgan and hid away like a little girl when the Beastmen attacked Al Zhabi during a Beseiged event. Beseiged sounds like a lot of fun – repelling invaders as they storm through the city sounds like my kind of thing, but I fear my 30th level RDM would get squished right quick. Shadowblade from Blackwind says one doesn’t lose experience points when dying in Beseiged, so I suppose there’s no reason for me to give it a shot in the near future.

The Corsair job quest makes the Ranger quest look like day care. Honestly, I can’t imagine how they believe a 30th level character could do that. The flagging for the Corsair job quest was easy enough, now the hard part. I hopped a ferry from Aht Urhgan Whitegate to Nahmaru. From there it’s a long, nasty trip through mines backed with imps and lamia and undead before skulking onto a ghost ship filled with, you know, ghosts. Not easy. Or perhaps most 30th level characters just have it together a little more than I. In any case, I tried it three times on 8/29: once solo (died), and twice with the help of Kaizersan and Yankaru from Fruit Bats (died, died in a total party wipe). So it was bad. I called it a day and resolved to try it again tomorrow.

Annnnnnnd it’s tomorrow!

Shadowblade and Vudoku from Blackwind both walked with me through the mines and onto the reef. It was still dangerous, but maybe we were just a little luckier. We all made it through and voila! Quest complete! Corsair unlocked! Yo-ho! Yo-ho! A pirate’s life for me! Thanks to Shad, Vudoku, Kaizersan and Yankaru for their guidance during the ordeal.

I made it back to Sandy just as fast as I could to switch into my brand new job.

Soloing 1-10. Again. One thing that kinda blows about Corsair is you can’t even pack heat until 15th level. One of the cornerstones of the class doesn’t even come into play until well down the line. Until then you’re all about buffing and half-ass DD’ing. That sucks. I’m a little disappointed.

However, the die rolling thing is freaking cool. The only roll I have so far is the Corsair’s Roll, which gives bonus experience for each battle won. The mechanics of rolling and doubling-up are kind of hard to explain; it relies heavily on playing the odds and pure luck – the gambler in me likes.

The Corsair is kind of a lukewarm WAR boasting fair HP and decent melee damage. I’m not sure if I can count on invites once I hit 10th and have to take the job to Valkurm. We’ll see soon enough: I’m currently 8th with a scant 900 xp to 9th.


Next time: The Pirate’s Life, More Rangering, San d’Oria Rank 3 and BESEIGED!

 

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About the Contributor


From 2006 to 2007

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

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