The Vana’diel Diaries (November 2006)

Well, I haven't gotten to Brenner. I haven't yet made Beseiged. I'm only slowly progressing in the 30s and leveling my subjob is still worse than pulling teeth. I have, however, started to get a genui

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Garlaige citadelWell, I haven’t gotten to Brenner. I haven’t yet made Beseiged. I’m only slowly progressing in the 30s and leveling my subjob is still worse than pulling teeth.

I have, however, started to get a genuine feel for the RNG job. I’ve made a number of contacts – guys who see my familiar name on the /inv list and say ‘Hey, Finn’s a pretty good RNG – inv him.’ I’m cracking right through Woodcrafting, able to make some really interesting (and a few very profitable) little items.

All that and my daughter knows the way from the San d’Oria airship port to the Mog Houses.


New Stuff

Garlaige Citadel – I hate this place. The ruins of the citadel are full of holes in the floor, which will drop an unwary character into the level below and frequently right on top of an aggressive mob. Everything is aggressive, everything links, and everything has the capacity to dish out big damage if you aren’t careful. Pulling in GC requires a keen mind, quick action, a good sense of acceptable risk, and the ability to run like hell when you pull that link (but mind you don’t fall into the damn hole). All that and the experience is really only marginal.

GC has the advantage of being right outside Jeuno, so a party can form up and be xp’ing inside of ten minutes. Replacements are nearly always closeby, and parties can resupply when necessary without breaking up. Long term parties might do better to hit Altepa Desert or Bibiki Bay (I love Bibiki!), but GC does have a lot going for it.

Except it sucks.


September 25

While I haven’t been in game for a couple days (and man, I’m jonesing), I wanted to make sure people weren’t worried I’d dropped off the face of the planet. No, no – the siren song of my new 360 has just been too hard to resist.

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Saints Row is a blatant, boldfaced cover of the most recent GTA games, right down to the warring gangs of San Andreas and the little stars to indicate just how much trouble you’re in with the cops. They even have their own take on the Pay ‘n’ Spray to get the heat off you. In that regard, it’s kind of sick. Once you can overlook that, it’s awesome. The game is gorgeous and is a much better cover of the urban mayhem/sandbox genre than any of the other wanna-be’s.

Dead Rising is scary. It might just be I have a weak constitution for such things, but hordes of flesh eating zombies is scary. That said, it’s freaking cool as hell. Last night I used a metal shelving unit to knock down four of the brain-eaters at once, then waded through a group laying the smack down with a metal bucket. Awesome stuff.


September 26

I took advantage of an afternoon dentist appointment and a timely nap by my little girl to get in some quality Vana’diel time. Gotta scratch that itch whenever you can.

After a lengthy trip from Kazham back to San d’Oria, I checked in on GalaxyCool. She hurt herself exercising, and is laid up on injured reserve eating these special greens meant to accelerate healing. Must’ve been all the stadiums. I’m a little distraught because my friends’ chocobos seem to be increasing in strength, endurance, perception, etc., and GC is still rated Poor across the board. She’s getting great food, plenty of exercise and attention – I’m beginning to wonder if she’s just a ‘special’ little bird or if I missed something along the way.

I’m also a tiny bit jealous that some friends are now riding black chocobos and mine is just kind of yellow and beige. Yes, I recall saying I just wanted a Honda Civic, but the black is so cool!

After my chocobo housekeeping, I switched gears and took my Corsair job to Valkurm. 15th to 17th in just over two hours. Not bad for a day’s work.


September 27

I’m starting to find ways of making good use of my invite-waiting time. Last night, for example, I sat in Jeuno and worked on my Woodcrafting. I’m already making Acid Bolts for profit, and it won’t be long before I can make my own ninja tools. Maybe not the kinda news that you put in your Christmas letter, but it beats staring at the screen wondering why the hell no one’s invited you to a party yet.

I wound up waiting about 20 minutes yesterday before getting an invite to a Yuhtunga Jungle party. After an airship hop to Khazam, I joined up with Shizue, Jazmin, Instantsneaker, Verdrague and Pastis to beat up on Mandragoras and Goblins. Again, I was pulling. I’m definitely getting better at this role. Not only am I getting better, I’m starting to enjoy it. There’s a certain challenge to the long pull that makes it an interesting little game. I reached 27th level and then some – that’s a good day.

GalaxyCool is all grown up, but still sufferring from the injured leg. The chief chocobo wrangler in San d’Oria says he’ll give me a chocobo whistle (allowing me to call GC for a ride anywhere, anytime), but I have to ‘find an item’ GC has hidden. Just give me the damn whistle already.


September 28

GalaxyCool’s leg is healed, and she kicked Best’s ass in another race. She’s now 3 and 2. I just have to find whatever damned widget she went and hid on me so I can get my whistle, and my hours of care and thousands of gil spent on food will be rewarded by free choco service!

I say this with a great deal of wood-knocking: the hours of me sitting around on my ass waiting seemed to have passed…for now. Last night my RNG got an invite for a party in Yhoator while idly skimming through the AH in Jeuno. I’d only been /inv for the 15 minutes it took me to finish up with the choco and airship to Jeuno from San d’Oria when I picked up an invite from Nega. 20 minutes later I joined him, Frankie, Marissa et al beating up the Yhoator flavor of Mandrogoras. It went very well: we were picking up experience at a breakneck pace. In a little less than two hours I made better than 7,000 xp, crashing into 28th level and halfway to 29th! 30th is totally in sight! I could make it by the weekend!

Of course that means it’ll be time to go level NIN again, as it’s proven to be an invaluable subjob for RNG. I just don’t really enjoy tanking, and playing NIN will mean at least a five level serving of blink tanking in Valkurm and Qufim. The good news is I’ll have no end of invites, so at least it will go quickly.


September 29 – October 2

This is what happens when you get lazy with a video game diary. Events kind of blur into each other and anyone happening to read whatever you hash together thinks you’re a hack.

Not a hack. Just lazy. Bear that in mind as I ramble off a somewhat convolutedlist of weekend achievements:

– A really good party in Yhoator brought RNG to 30th! Yay! I had really been anxious about pulling in Yhoator – it’s somewhat hard to navigate and it’s chock full o’ mobs. Ironically, that’s what makes it so easy. You can hardly turn around without stepping on a Mandragora or Goblin. It makes locating a victim easy and runs back to party quick and (mostly) safe.

– I hate NIN. No disrespect intended to all the uber-Ninjas, but it’s just not for me. I hate tanking. My NIN is just so ineffective as a tank. I can’t hit hard enough to hold the hate, and even provoking as frequently as possible I just can’t keep the mobs on me. After crapping tooth-and-nail, I shelved NIN at 18th.

– RNG gear is getting expensive with a capital, boldface, underscored E. I blanked my bank account again to buy a new gun, a new bow, new armor and a new earring. One nice thing about all my down time is I’m able to craft and fish, but I’m gonna have to find new sources of income soon.


October 3

One bad thing about getting a late start is you just can’t get anything done. Barring a party invite within the first half-hour of going in-game, it’s just not gonna happen. All that badass new gear is just gonna collect dust, and that’s sad.

GalaxyCool is “in the mood”. Ugh. Hantileon, the chief chocobo wrangler in San d’Oria, says she’s in love. Wonderful. In an effort to counter this development, I scolded her repeatedly, walked her all over creation, then raced her against Best. She won, improving her record to 4-3-1 (Suck on it, Best! LOSER!). Just the same, she needs to get over this. More scolding awaits if she doesn’t straighten up and fly right ASAP.

Finally, I’m letting my daughter run Finn around anytime I’m in a relatively safe,sparsely populated area. She loves it, but I think people who see her walk around think I’m either drunk and/or suffering from a severe case of ADHD. She runs into walls, runs into people, runs back and forth, upstairs-downstairs-upstairs-downstairs, and in and out of shops or the Mog House. It’s a good step. Soon her journey towards the dark side will be complete.


October 4

There’s a big sale at this little women’s clothing store today. So what, you ask? Last night, their ‘preferred customers’ got a little pre-game sale action in. That means I got hours upon hours of uninterrupted Vana’diel time. And it probably only cost $200 or so in new clothes for my wife.

After popping in game and shipping to Jeuno, I got an invite for a party in Yhoator. I packed up my new bow, new arrows, new crossbow, new bolts and new gun before airshipping over to Kazham and choco’ing to meet my new party. I couldn’t wait to field test my new equipment and my uber-cool sounding new RNG job ability: Barrage.

Dayamn.

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The first pull I made was a Yhoator Mandragora. I started with the bow. Not only was it hitting for 60-80 points a shot, I’m hitting about 9 times out of 10. Nice. So then I try Barrage: WHAM! Finnegan’s ranged attack hits the Yhoator Mandragora for 228 points of damage.

Huh? Did I read that right? 228?

Later we moved to the southwest corner of Yuhtunga Jungle near the entrance to Sea Serpent Grotto. We beat the crap out of Makara (the next tier of the fish family) and Sahagin (die, fish people, die!). It was almost effortless ass-kicking. My biggest problem was slowing myself down; I found that spamming ranged attacks drew hate too fast for our tanks to voke the mob off me.

This was a fantastic party. Maaku, Rylan, Elbuats, Marimu, Oblexsomething-or-other (sorry buddy, I’m just not good remembering those long names) and myself were a finely tuned machine. I earned 9,000 xp in about two hours, and that’s including a twenty minute travel break. 31st level and knocking on the door of 32nd. Great party – thanks guys.

31st is kind of a milestone. RNG has finally surpassed RDM as my highest level job. That’s a big thing for me. It took me a long time to raise RDM to 30th, but I never really enjoyed the job the way I love RNG. People occasionally ask me what I’m going to take to 75, and I can say with utmost confidence that I’m riding this train to the final station.


October 5

I gotta learn to slow down. With my new Military Gun and +1 Great Bow I’m simply doing too much damage for other DDs and Tanks to keep up. On one side, I have this rather childish ‘look how badass I am’ thing going, but on the other I died twice last night because I just drew too much hate.

Setoshi, Nilson, Rylan, Caldara, myself and some other guy who really needed a shorter name took it to Bibiki Bay . This was my first visit there. Life beyond 30th level is kinda neat. No longer is it just Valkurm -> Qufim Island -> Kazham; the generic xp factory is a thing of the past. Beyond 30th there really is a wealth of places to go hunting, and that’s fun.

This was a good party, 3,000xp in an hour isn’t too bad, but it broke up leaving a somewhat sour taste. I was just 400xp to 32nd when we called it a night, and even though each of them had picked up a level during the hour, they weren’t willing to stick around so I could do the same. I understand it’s late; people have things to do and the game is never a priority over work, school or family, but come on…two fights, three tops.

It’s gonna be Mountain Dew Amp tonight as I push for 32nd and hopefully 33rd during the wee hours. There’s a new RNG-only gun at 34th that I’m really looking forward to trying out.


October 7-9

I’ve looked back at my October entries and have noticed I’m just not playing as much. I’m not quite sure if I’m beginning to burn out a little or if this is just a break. I think more the latter. It could, however, just be I’m spending more time with other games. Elder Scrolls IV is hard to put down, and it’s only going to get worse when Final Fantasy XII is released on the 31st. I foresee less FF XI being played over October, November and December; it’ll probably be after the holidays before I completely jump back in.

Even with the choice three-day weekend at my feet, I didn’t play more than an hour or two. I got in one party over the whole time, but it was in a very overcamped Yhoator Jungle. The party went on for about an hour before dissolving. I wound up earning about 1,500xp – not much, but enough to make 32nd and a comfortable cushion.

And with the rest of the weekend I did a whole lot of nothing. I did get a number of untimely invites which I was forced to politely turn down (it was always just as I was quitting or just as some minor domestic emergency popped up), but that’s still reassuring. I also worked my Woodworking up to 25.


October 11

Still enjoying my short break from the game. I hadn’t really played single-player games for so long that I’d forgotten what huge advantages they have over MMO’s – especially ones that rely so heavily on teamwork like Final Fantasy XI: you don’t have to commit to a first-person shooter or a single-player RPG or a sports game. Anything else that might beg your time can be attended to almost right away; just pause or save and come back later.

Ironically enough, that might be the biggest thing I miss (aside from doing truckloads of damage and saying neener-neener-neener to BLMs) about adventuring in Vana’diel: the team. I’m a teamwork kind of guy. I like working within a group and winning with a group. I like being a part of helping other people advance, and I like to think that goes both ways. Anyway, with no child and no wife to wrestle my time from me, it’s game on tonight. We’ll see how it goes.


October 12

When an airship hop from San d’Oria to Jeuno is the high point of your evening in-game, it’s been a bad day. Invites have gone cold again, and try as I might I can’t put a party together. The range of excuses I get is pretty sad.

“I want a Japanese-speaking party.” – I suppose I understand this one; I don’t mind playing in Japanese-speaking parties, but it’s a little unnerving playing for a team and being unable to understand a word they’re saying.

“I want a Garlaige Citadel party.” – Are people such sheep that they are unable to understand other very good XP spots exist? Bibiki Bay rocks, Yuhtunga Jungle by Sea Serpent Grotto is good, and there are at least a few others where a party could XP and not worry about the area being overcamped. People are stupid.

“/tell me again when you’ve got a full group.” – And thanks for the Catch 22 there, guys.

I even had a NIN ask me how much I was willing to pay to have him in my XP party. That’s temerity on an intergalactic scale. What an ass.

So four strikes and I’m out to go take my frustration out on the Nazis. Here’s to hoping things improve.


October 16

I broke my brief hiatus to pop online, say hi to some friends and see if I couldn’t help out Erador with the quest for the first piece of his Artifact gear: the AF sword. Between Erador, Kaizersan and myself I figured we’d thrash the NM guarding the sword.

It was not to be. The NM, a really ornery earth elemental called ‘The Polvik’ (or Polnik or Bolshevik…something like that), was almost completely resistant to everything we could dish out. A few big money area effect spells and we were done. Erador deleveled and we were all headed back to our respective home points. Not a banner day.

I called it a night here; my xp cushion couldn’t take another beating without deleveling, and with the infrequency and bad luck I’ve been having with parties, I didn’t want to take any chances.

One last bit of news. I retired GalaxyCool. She had hit day 47, and wasn’t going to improve any further. I’m not quite sure where I went wrong raising her, but she never developed into a strong choco, and I’d rather start over. The ‘goodbye’ cutscene is rather poignant and heartwrenching, but it’s time to move on. GC will be at the stables and at my beck and call whenever I blow the whistle, and I’ll probably start raising another chocobo in a week or two.


October 18

I burnt a sick day to stay home and see if I can’t make a push on RNG and I can’t connect to Xbox Live. Nearly all day. Microsoft bastards. I’m finally able to get through at 9pm, which means I can start downloading and installing the update (about 40 minutes). By 9:45 I have just enough time to get online, choco out of Windurst and finish the supply run to the Buburimu Peninsula before logging. For this I took a personal?

I talked with Erador a bit a few days ago about frustrations with party invites and party forming while playing RNG. It may sound like whiny bitching, and I suppose it is to an extent, but the fact of the matter is sitting around just ain’t fun. Even though I can fill some of the time crafting or performing little go-fetch quests, it’s not blasting the crap out of mobs from range.

So I’m toying with the thought of taking a break from the job. I’m going to give it a few more days, but if my bad luck holds I’m going to make a temporary switch back to WHM. WHMs get crazy invites. Everybody likes a healer, and I already have 16 levels of WHM gathering dust. Not saying it’s an inevitability, just saying I have an option if things continue to be frustrating.


October 19

If nothing else, I had one major accomplishment last night: I crafted something that someone could actually make good use of. Erador is now the proud owner of a Windurstian Bow. It’s only a mid-teens shortbow, and not really a bow a Ranger would carry (because we’re snobs like that), but I think it’ll do quite nicely.

Otherwise, it was more of the same. I don’t have any room to complain; I was on late and didn’t really have that much time to spend online.

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Tonight I’m going to solo Meriphtaud Mountains (sp?) – maybe try hunting some coeurl while waiting for some party to come together (right now / over me).

And worse case scenario, I’ll log and go kill some Nazis. Fascist bastards.


October 21

Yeah! Hell of a day! Not only did I get one invite, I got two! In roughly three hours of party xp’ing, I earned about 9,000 xp hunting in Western Alteppa Desert and Garlaige Citadel (which is a crappy, evil, horrible place that I loathe).

Anyway, 9k is easily enough to smash into 33rd level and just a thousand short of 34th! Love these days! Kyrill, Landlord, Muran, Fiorenzo…too many others I had the privilege to party with made for a great day and really cracked me out of the frustrated little funk I’d waded into. Thanks!

I guess it really is all about the timing. Maybe I just have to accept that weekday nights are not going to be real productive and plan to craft/fish/solo/quest/etc those nights. Things are gonna be all right.

Blacksabre wants to get another group of us lowbies (the affectionate term for those of us still in the 30s and 40s) to start the Chains of Promathia missions. The first time around I was just too low level to do it, but now I’m raring to go. Gotta find a good night/nights that work for all of us and we’ll be all over the Promys.

FF XI is going to start to see less and less playtime, at least for a while. I’m playing (and reviewing) a big old stack of games, and FF XII is just 10 days off (with FF III for the DS two weeks behind that). The diary’s going to be a little thin for the November, December and possibly January issue – I imagine Paul’s gonna be just fine with that.


October 23

I can feel it comin’ around. Erador says he thinks I turned a corner. I think he might be onto something. Inside of 20 minutes in-game I had an invite from Secelia, and wound up joining her group of Vix, Rahnemen, Jickson and Ralkman (never fear, Ralk Man is here!) in one of my least favorite XP destinations: Garlaige Citadel. I’ve heard a couple people, RNGs and non-RNGs alike, say you absolutely must be able to pull in dicey areas like Garlaige to play in the big leagues – I’m happy to say I think I’m getting it down.

I am absolutely ripping shit up with the RNG ability Barrage. Sharpshot -> Barrage -> Fire -> Limit Break is usually good for close to 500 points of damage inside of ten seconds. That’s bad ass.

5,000 xp in about 90 minutes, give or take, is a fair evening. I’ve hit 34th and taken a big bite out of the xp required for 35th. At 36th I’m going to have to go back and pick up a few more levels of NIN, but for
now RNG seems to be back on track, and I couldn’t be happier about it.


October 24

I took a little break from xp’ing tonight to embark upon yet another of Square Enix’s less amusing quests. This one involves runnnig hither and yon all over creation, getting clay “impressions” of multiple stone monuments that are literally spread all over Vana’diel for the mayor of the seaside town of Selbina . This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the back and forth; after each impression is taken, you’ve got to run all the way back to Selbina to check in with the mayor. Then it’s off to get another impression…and then back.

Erador, who accompanied me on this, did this the smart way. He started a long while back and kept the clay (used for making the impressions) in his inventory. Whenever he happened to be trotting by a monument (whether it be going to/from a party or on another quest), he’d pick up an impression. I, however, didn’t realize the importance of this quest until recently, and am forced to make a chore of it.

Given any other circumstance, I’d give the mayor the finger and go on my merry way. However, one must deliver 15 impressions to the mayor to get the map to the Crawler’s Nest, a very tasty xp farm for levels 35 through 55. The bastard has me dead to rights – I hate politicians.

I picked up three monuments last night. I suppose it’s not a completely vile and vomitous quest; each monument reveals a bit of the history of the area. Just the same, it’s a lot of running around and that just isn’t my idea of fun. Thanks to Erador for keeping me company and making it as painless as possible.

I’m trying to find a new gun called the Serpentine Gun, but neither the San d’Oria nor Jeuno Auction House has it in stock. Vudoku was farming Davoi last night and was unable to get the gun to drop (stingy orc bastards); I really appreciate it just the same. My LS rocks.


Next time: Beginning the Chains of Promathia missions, defending Al Zhabi in Beseiged and continuing on with RNG and NIN.

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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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