## 25 August, 2009

### Calculus & FFXI -- INT and MAB

Introduction
It has been long known to Black Mages that resists aside, Magic Attack Bonus, or MAB for short, is the stat that you want to focus on when it comes to raising your nuke damage. However, it is also known that for lower tier nukes, INT adds more damage than MAB.

Out of this comes the question of when the transition period is, and thus there is a need to relate the two together.

Today, a fairly common rule of thumb is that “2INT ≈ 1MAB,” which has been largely shown to be true from general observation.

However, I have not yet come across any mathematical support for this statement.

As advanced warning, there is a decent amount of math involved, which brings about two issues—first, not everyone likes math, so I’ll have to step away from the mathematics from time to time to explain what is going on. In addition, I have no idea what kind of math background my reader, you, would have.

To be safe, I am going to write for someone who has a high school background in Calculus, or someone in their freshman year in college.

Bear in mind that the mathematics detailed below will not necessarily make you a better player, nor will unveil some great profound secret that will change the way you look at nukers forever. It is simply an insight into the logic and reasoning that goes behind our decisions.

By providing mathematical support for the claim, not only do we get absolute, logical proof that the relation holds true (under certain circumstances), but we can verify its accuracy, and if need be, further refine the rule.

But in all honesty, I was bored. Very, very bored. ^^

By the way, if the equations don't display properly, your browser is probably blocking the HTML or Java script that takes the code and turns it into equations.

The damage formula
To begin, let’s start with the damage formula (D) for a nuke:

$D=k(1+\frac{M}{100})[B+\lambda(I_Y-I_M)]$

The equation above has a several variables, so I’ll briefly explain each component.
• k is the product of all the modifiers you get from elemental staves, day of the week, weather, magic burst, and type of mob.
• M refers to your total Magic Attack Bonus from both Job traits and equipment.
• B is the spell’s base damage, which can be looked up elsewhere.
• λ is the nuke’s tier-modifier, again, further details can be found elsewhere.
• I refers to total Intelligence (again, base INT and gear)- the subscript Y or M tells you whose INT the equation is referring to- You, or the Mob.
For more information, you can look at its FFXIclopedia entry here.

MAB is divided by 100 and added to 1 to signify that MAB is a percentage bonus. If you have a total of 32 Magic Attack Bonus, then your MAB multiplier is 1.32.

Model limitations
Bear in mind that this equation is not entirely accurate because of limitations in the computation, which is a topic that is usually touched upon in college under Numerical Analysis.

Because a computer can’t store an infinite number of decimal places, it has to truncate the working figure at some point, which means it just ignores all the numbers after a certain position.

For example, if you were to multiply 1.4 and 3.7 together, but your calculator could only store one number after the decimal point, your calculator would give you the answer, 5.1, instead of the real answer, which is 5.18. Because the calculator cannot store any more numbers past the 1, the 8 is lost through the truncation process.

In Final Fantasy XI’s case, all the numbers that go into the damage formula are truncated down to their integer values, and so because of this, our calculated values from the equation above will have a little bit of error in it.

Calculus
Once again, the equation for calculating your damage is,

$D=k(1+\frac{M}{100})[B+\lambda(I_Y-I_M)]$

The typical textbook question here would ask you to maximize your damage.

Notice that this question by itself does not make sense, because the answer would just be to make your Intelligence and Magic Attack Bonus infinitely large. The unspoken fine print is to find the maximum value of D within some kind of boundary, which would represent the gear selection currently available. This is a topic typically covered in a college freshman math course in multivariable calculus.

Still, the question is not very interesting because you can just go out there and try different gear sets yourself, or just plug in numbers to compare. The problem is easily solved by just going out there and testing it yourself, without having to actually using college mathematics to do so.

What is more interesting is the relationship between INT and MAB, which will help when evaluating gear choices, or to better understand in what proportions of INT and MAB work well together. Are Vicious mufflers better than Yigit gages? What if SE produced a pair of gloves that added +9INT? Which is best?

Differentiation
Because we want to find out how much INT we need to make up for 1MAB, we need to first determine the increase in damage by changing INT and MAB. Hence, we need to differentiate.

The first stumbling block is that the function has multiple variables. Most, if not all of the functions up until high school calculus involve only one variable, so what do you know when there are two?

Let’s re-examine what the differentials actually mean.

Taking the derivative with respect to MAB as an example, it refers to the change in damage with respect to your Magic Attack Bonus. In other words, how much would my damage change if I increased my MAB by 1?

This may sound familiar to those who have studied basic microeconomic theory, in particular, marginal costs and/or marginal benefits. In this case, the marginal benefit of hiring a new employee refers to the benefit (profit) gained as a result of hiring one more employee, and changing nothing else.

Likewise, what we are looking at here is the marginal benefit of adding 1 MAB.

The key here is that the only thing you are changing is your MAB, therefore everything else can be treated as a constant!

This is called the partial derivative, and is used in functions with more than one variable. The idea is, how much change would I expect by increasing this variable while holding all other variables constant?

Because we are only interested in the relationship between I_Y and MAB, we only need to compute the derivates with respect to those two variables.

Also note that it does not make sense to compute the derivative to any of the other variables, because they are just outside our control.

So, if

$D=k(1+\frac{M}{100})[B+\lambda(I_Y-I_M)]$

I can differentiate this using the product rule, but I personally prefer to just expand the brackets and rearrange to get

$D=\left [\frac{k(B- \lambda I_M)}{100} \right ]M+\frac{\lambda kMI_Y}{100} +k \lambda I_Y+k(B- \lambda I_M)$

So, in order to take the partial derivative of D with respect to MAB, I assume everything except MAB is constant.

Thus, taking the partial differential with respect to MAB, I get:

$\frac{\partial D}{\partial M}=\frac{k(B- \lambda I_M)}{100}+\frac{\lambda kI_Y}{100}$
$\frac{\partial D}{\partial M}=\frac{k[B+ \lambda (I_Y-I_M)]}{100}$

Likewise, taking the partial differential with respect to your INT,

$\frac{\partial D}{\partial I_Y}=\frac{\lambda kM}{100}+\lambda k$
$\frac{\partial D}{\partial I_Y}=\frac{\lambda k(M+100)}{100}$

Thus, I now have a say of calculating the amount of change my damage will incur if I change either my intelligence, or my MAB.

Back to the question!
Going back to the original question, I want to know how much intelligence I have to add in order to match MAB. In other words, I want to know when the two partial derivatives are equal. In particular, I want to know how much intelligence I need to add (remember, that’s just dD/dI) when dD/dM is 1.

Using the principle of small changes, I can write:
$\frac{\triangle I_Y}{\triangle M}\approx\frac{\partial I_Y}{\partial M}$

In this case, ∆MAB=1, so
$\triangle I_Y\approx\frac{\partial I_Y}{\partial M}$

Finally, using the chain rule, I can now deduce an expression to find the change in I_Y with respect to MAB.

$\frac{\partial I_Y}{\partial M}=\frac{\partial I_Y}{\partial D}\frac{\partial D}{\partial M}$

Therefore,
$\triangle I_Y\approx\frac{\partial I_Y}{\partial M}=\frac{100}{\lambda k(M+100)}\frac{k[B+\lambda(I_Y-I_M)]}{100}$

$\triangle I_Y\approx\frac{\frac{B}{\lambda}+I_Y-I_M}{M+100}$

Voila! We now have an equation to calculate the amount of I_Y required to match 1MAB’s worth of damage.

Notice that MAB is found on the denominator, which indicates as MAB increases, less INT will be required to match that increase in damage. In other words, as your MAB increases, raising INT will become more and more damage-efficient.

Using the formula
To use the formula, pick a nuke and look up the required values. For example, let’s assume I’m nuking Thunder IV, which has a base damage of 541 and a tier modifier of 2, on an Ebony Pudding (89INT). I have 125INT and a total of 71MAB, including my Job Trait Magic Attack Bonus, so plugging those numbers into the equation, I get:

$\triangle I_Y\approx\frac{\frac{B}{\lambda}+I_Y-I_M}{M+100}=\frac{\frac{541}{2}+125-89}{71+100}=1.792$

So I need roughly 1.8INT in order to match 1MAB’s worth of damage. Pretty close to the 2INT=1MAB claim!

Note that this number obviously varies from person to person, depending on that player's own stats, so if you want, you could quickly go through the calculation yourself to find your own INT:MAB ratio, but it should be quite close to the 9:5 ratio as suggested here.

Edit (16th April 2010): (Finally) got rid of those equation borders...only about 8 months late. :P
Edited to clarify some things pointed out by Robonosto.

## 28 July, 2009

### BLM solo in Xarcabard [S]- a.k.a. "1400 damage or GTFO!"

New personal record: Chain #41!

Okay, I know the actual picture says Chain #40, but I but forgot to take a screenshot of the Chain #41 kill. Of course, I finally got a resist on the next tiger and lost the chain there without a screenshot of that new personal record. Go figure. -_-

As you might be able to tell, I've been obsessing over this camp as of late. Not because the camp is good, although that certainly helps, but because this camp just feels like it has so much potential.

The actual meriting process is very simple- walk up to a Gigas’ Tiger and nuke. Parsimony whenever it is up, saving the other charge for Alacrity in case of emergencies. Rest for one or two ticks, depending on how far your next mob is, before continuing.

So, just how good is this camp? Tigers here are level 75-76, which is 100-130 base xp, which goes up to 150-195xp/kill once you're past Chain #4, or an average of 172.5xp/kill.

So, if you kill one mob every minute, your xp/hr will be about 172.5 x 60 minutes = 10,350xp/hr. Not too bad.

But in reality, I was killing one tiger every 50 seconds on average. 3600 seconds/50 seconds per kill = 72 kills = 172.5 x 72 = 12,420xp/hr!

So this camp is very, very good. You want in. So, what do I need?

Minimum standards

The entire camp revolves around being able to one-shot a Gigas's Tiger. This creates a very interesting bar to entry and I am very curious if the development team actually took this into consideration (though I think that’s giving them too much credit).

I think I’ve shown by now that this camp surpasses Puddings in terms of xp/hr, but note that is only applies to Black Mages that meet the minimum standard, so here it is:

The minimum standard: To deal 1400 damage on an unresisted nuke consistently.

If you cannot do this, your xp/hr rate literally plummets to the point where you would probably be better off sticking to Ebony Puddings. This number is a lot easier to meet with frequent ice weather and day bonuses, but such things are inconsistent- to truly benefit from this camp, you would want to be able to come here at any time.

Why one-shot? The obvious reason why is that two nukes obviously take longer to fire off, especially if you need to Bind or Sleep in the middle.

Secondly, one common speed bump in pet camps is that you have to wait for the mob to turn its back to you, or navigate your way around the camp until you are behind the mob so that the master does not see its pet coming after you.

However, if you can one-shot the pet, you can nuke from any direction because the master will not link with a dead pet.

Together, those two reasons result in immense time savings, which become invaluable when you need to meet the 60-second time limit for everything beyond Chain #5 and still rest sufficient mana to continue the chain.

To give the reader just what kind of standard is required, this is my current nuking set for neutral day/weather:

As a Taru with full Elemental skill merits and full INT merits, I nuke with 133INT and +29MAB in gear. I also have maximum Lightning potency merits.

Yet, my neutral Thunder IVs land for just 1369 damage, off my estimated minimum requirement by 31 damage, so I still have to wait for Ice/Lightningsday to come around before I can merit in this camp! >_<

For BLMs who would like something more familiar to compare against, I use the same gear setup, to nuke Ebony Puddings with a /RDM subjob for 1515 damage without food, 1540 damage with.

BLM/SCH!

Today, /RDM has become the default subjob of choice for Black Mages everywhere, and it's not difficult to see why. Here's what you get from /RDM:
• Fast Cast II
• Dispel
• Gravity
• Phalanx
• Stoneskin
Of these, the most valuable are Stoneskin, Blink and Gravity. These are all defensive in nature, and provide Black Mage with the survivability required to function effectively.

However, if you can one-shot pets, there is no need for defense!

Your concern shifts from survivability to one wholly focused on pure mana conservation, which is where /SCH shines. This is what /SCH has to offer:
• -10% mp costs through Dark Arts.
• -10% cast time and recast time.
• -50% mp cost through Parsimony (using one charge.)
• -50% cast time through Alacrity (using one charge.)
You are most interested in the mana conservation through Dark Arts and Parsimony, whose effects add up immensely:

Let's say that with a cooldown of two minutes, you would Parsimony every third nuke. Thunder IV costs 154mp under Dark Arts, and 77mp under Parsimony.

Thus, you consume 385mp in total for every set of three nukes, in the following cycle:

Thunder IV → Rest two ticks → Thunder IV → Rest two ticks → Parsimony → Thunder IV → Rest two ticks → Repeat.

With Clear Mind V and +24hMP in my healing set, I get back 51mp on the first tick, and 54mp on the second tick for a total of 105mp restored through resting in between nukes, for a total of 315mp restored through healing per cycle.

If I nuke every 50 seconds, the whole cycle will take 2:30. With 1mp restored every three seconds from Sigil, Sigil restores 50mp in that time.

Thus, the total mana restored per cycle is 365mp.

Therefore, you have a net mana consumption of just 20mp every three nukes!

Camp orientation

Now that I've talked a little bit about the mechanics of the camp, one important final part is actual knowledge of the camp and its surroundings. First, you will never stay at one stationary spot. You will keep moving around, depending on several factors.

In total, I counted five Gigas Floggers in the area. One of them is to the far west, the other towards the eastern tundra. The other three are all clustered very close to each other in the center, and it is these three that you want to focus on.

However, you only need two Beastmasters to recur, so a good idea would be to just alternate between the two Beastmasters until one of them moves into an unfavourable location.

I'll be frank- this camp is very mentally taxing. Because you are /SCH, you have very little defense should something go wrong, other than perhaps Alacrity-Sleepga. Once you reach Chain #5 and above, pressure is constantly on you to keep the chain, which means you have to be able to answer the following questions quickly:
• Where is your next tiger? How far is it?
• Do I have to stand up early to get to the tiger in time?
• Where are the surrounding Gigas?
• Where are the Greater Amphipteres?
• How close should I stand when I nuke to avoid the pet moving out of range mid-cast?
• How far should I stand when I nuke to avoid aggro from the beastmaster?
As a rough gauge, if you have the Distance plugin on the unofficial Windower, a player character moves at a base speed of 4.0 yalms per second, so you can use that to decide whether you should stand up early to move to your next tiger.

Resists

It’s still a bit of a bummer that so far, my chain is completely dependent on not getting resisted. Theoretically, you can still keep the chain by timing an Alacrity-Tier III nuke in between tiger swings, but there are two problems to this.

One is more focused on player skill. Because resists are so unexpected, when they do occur, I find myself in a sudden state of panic even though I planned for such contingencies. With experience, I ought to be able to react accordingly and maintain a smooth flow.

The other, bigger issue is that if you nuked the pet in front of the beastmaster and your nuke was resisted, the beastmaster will see the pet and link, thus ending your chain even though you manage to kill the pet in time.

Yes, you could maneuver around the beastmaster to set yourself up for an ideal nuking spot, but if you focus too much on that, you forgo one large benefit of being able to one-shot pets. All I can say is that at least the Xarcabard [S] camp here has the benefit of choice, and with multiple Gigas Floggers around, at least you have the luxury of picking and choosing from the tigers available.

If, unfortunately you're forced into one particular tiger and you get resisted, well, that's life Final Fantasy XI. Just Sleepga, finish off the pet, curse, Retrace, and come back to start anew. :(

## 26 July, 2009

### Black Mage Solo Chain #19+

So, did I mention I love Xarcabard [S]?

I thought I was loving the new beastmen pet camps as a Scholar, when I posted my picture of getting Chain #9 solo, but I just went back there as a Black Mage, and well, see for yourself:

Chain #19! Solo!

For those who are interested in trying this out for yourself, I went BLM/SCH, nuking with Thunder IV only, resting for two ticks between each pet and using Parsimony whenever it was up. Sometimes, if the next tiger was far away, I'd have to get up after only one tick of rest.

The fact that I managed to get Chain #19 and still have 566/1093mp suggests that with this method, I could very well see something around Chain #40, assuming no resists. That being said, my chain breaking around #20 does not surprise me, as with my magic accuracy capped at 95%, I'd expect one in twenty mobs to resist my nuke.

I did however, learn a few things:

First, you only really need two Beastmasters to go infinite. However, as I mentioned in my last post, there are five Beastmasters in the area, so this wasn't really a problem. You must also be decisive- interrupting your spell midway will break the chain, so I'd sometimes risk getting aggro from a Gigas that was walking towards me in order to keep the chain.

I also learnt that I was just a little bit short of damage once Lightningsday came to pass. The tigers would end up at just 1% HP after my Thunder IV, which leads me to believe that you need to consistently deal 1400 damage to fully utilize this method outside of Ice/Lightningsday. I am just 31 damage short of that. :(

(For the record, I was nuking with 133INT and +27MAB from gear.)

There are still gear improvements I can make- it's just a matter of getting around to obtaining the stuff. :P

But all that aside, the big question- just how much xp was I getting? I sat down to manually calculate it, taking the time from my first Thunder IV to the first Thunder IV of the next chain. Overall, I was getting about 11,300xp/hr! That's better than Puddings! :D

## 23 July, 2009

### I <3 Xarcabard [S]

Wow, I'm liking this update. I haven't gotten around to trying out all the additions the update brought, but the first thing I did upon logging in was to beeline straight for Beaucedine Glacier [S] and subsequently, Xarcabard [S].

I think Xarcabard [S] must be one of my new favourite zones now.

I like the music, the mobs...and did I mention the xp?

The past couple of times I've been there, I counted a whopping five Gigas Beastmasters (Gigas Floggers) in the area. This would easily support two pet solo players, but when there's just one, the results are very, very nice. :o

Chain #9 solo. :o

Soloing here has been a very nice bridge between Vunkerl Inlet [S] tigers and Ebony Puddings, which has been a godsend to me since at SCH72, I really wasn't in a position to take on Ebony Puddings. I could kill them, but they'd take so much effort it really wasn't worth it.

Not to mention, you have your moments of {excitement} doing this camp, as you'll often have to dodge Gigas aggro and run in the path of a flying Greater Amphiptere (read: death from above) to keep your chain. :D

I stuck around Xarcabard [S] for a couple days, getting SCH72→SCH74 in the meantime. I think 74 would be the time to leave, since all the base xp goes down to 120-160xp/kill, and Puddings should now be a lot easier.

Best part of all though- the camp is right next to the Campaign Arbiter! Easy transport to and fro from camp, and to make things better, frequent Ice weather in Xarcabard [S] makes me a very happy nuker. :3

## 11 July, 2009

### Ongoings.

On a completely random note, I am in love with the Star Onions remix of Gustaberg.

It has come to my attention that all last written posts (I hesitate to use the word “recently” here) have nothing to do with my actual in-game activities. Sure, there were a few videos of me soloing Brothers, and a layout or two on the Campsitarus revamp (which is trundling along very slowly, I might add), but nothing answers the question of just what have I been up to in game?

I’m not exactly sure what to think of that. On the one hand, much of the FFXI-related blogs out there revolve around one’s own accomplishments and gains in-game, and to be quite frank, this very blog was along the same lines too.

However, somewhere along the road, I had difficulty fathoming that anyone would be interested in reading about my own conquests in game, especially when the posts start to resemble some variation of “We did this, I got that and the world goes on anyway.”

Occasionally there comes an interesting issue or hot topic which warrants a response, like my last post a couple months ago about Elmerthepointy’s questionnaire, and more recently, the Gardening bannings.

So in recent news, probably as a result of all the Astralburning that's been going on, Windurst took over Gustaberg.

{Nice to meet you.}, Kuuwari-Aori, W.W.

I haven’t really been all that involved in-game recently. I suppose I am at the stage where I’ve played long enough and am stuck in that not-so-pleasant limbo of trying to find meaning in what I’m doing, which is about the same time most people decide to just pack up and move onto other worldly pursuits.

I joined TeamKanican back in October last year to try and experience playing in a committed HNM linkshell. Things were initially both hectic and jam packed, with us camping Ixion, Sandworm, Fafhogg, (King) Behemoth and to a lesser extent, Khimaira along with all the other events that go on like Einherjar and Dynamis.

While you could say that continually having things in game to do were good, I quickly found myself disliking the rush from one camp to the next, only to stand around checking Widescan every few minutes, or spamming Stun every half hour.

More recently, we've laid off camping Ixion and Sandworm, going down to just Kings and Khimaira, which isn't so bad. We seem to have put Dynamis on hold, and I haven't been able to make our Einherjar runs either, so things have definitely cooled down in-game, or so to speak. The problem still remained though- I wasn't sure what I was playing for.

I realized that the main draw to me for TK was the image that Kaeko had portrayed, that TK was a shell that pioneered strategic advancements and so-and-so forth, and while I can say that with Kaeko’s help, we still do some of those things, the reality is very different.

Our latest pursuit lies with the trio team up between LimitBreak, BBQ and TK into Awsomeland to try and take down Absolute Virtue.

For obvious reasons, we haven't succeeded yet. Besides, if we had succeeded, chances are you would've heard about it by now.

But our rehearsal did lead to the following exchange, where I somehow found myself playing the role of Absolute Virtue,

Aside from that, much of my in-game time now revolves around low-manning ENMs, primarily Brothers and Shell We Dance, with the occasional Apollyon NW duo thrown in here and there, splitting the drops afterwards. It’s purely a money-making scheme, especially as I try to push for lower and lower numbers to maximize our returns per person, but it’s been satisfying working with people I’m familiar with once again and trying to push limits (no matter how small) as a small group.

I don’t know if I’m in a position to rightfully give strategic authority to others, but it was with that intention that I started taking videos of my solo runs with the intention of trying to improve other people’s play, by highlighting the general strategy required to win, as well as showcasing the mistakes to avoid.

It was this intention to share my knowledge and experiences that led me to agree when Ringthree asked me to contribute a mage-based column to his blog-turned-web magazine (though real life commitments have kept me from contributing much lately).

I also set up another personal blog along the same lines at thunderiv.blogspot.com which I hope will deal with my specific experiences as a Black Mage (and I suppose to a lesser extent, Scholar). It’s still largely empty though, but I do have several ideas I would like to put down on paper, but it’s just a matter of actually sitting down to write and flesh them out.

Then in addition, I also casually mentioned to Kallo back in April that I had an idea to talk about Campsitarus on Limit Break Radio, and we pieced together a brief outline which we just finished recording yesterday.

I’m not sure when the episode will air- it obviously depends on Aniero’s own schedule, but showing up as a guest speaker on the show was quite an experience and taught me a lot, even though the covered material itself was rather basic.

Honestly, camps and experience points is a huge topic, with lots of leads we could've followed, and in the interest of not wavering too far, we found it difficult to properly segment everything and just stick with the bare basics.

I definitely don't think we broke any sound barriers with what we spoke about, and I’m actually a little afraid people will think we’re talking about things that are overly basic, and I’m afraid we might've spent too much time just vaguely talking about things without really going down to things that might not be considered general knowledge.

Finally, I've been leveling my Scholar. It's currently sitting at SCH72, and once it hits 75, it'll mark my fifth 75 job along with BLM, RDM, WHM and SMN (notice a trend here?). It was interesting, especially in the earlier levels when I was trying to see just how far I could just on Beastmen pets only, but eventually, I just got sick of large tnls and started joining regular parties instead.

I did have a rather strange party the other day in East Ronfaure [S] though- it was a powerlevel TP Burn party, synced to 38, so I joked that I'd come SCH/DRK to melee with Attack Bonuses.

To my surprise, the party leader said "yeah, why not?" :o

It clearly didn't work out, so I decided to go and pull instead since we had no BRD with us. I ended up pulling an 11k/hr party as a SCH/DRK, and we were all set to leave East Ronfaure when we hit 41 until we found out that we were going 14k/hr afterwards. ^^

Don't try SCH/DRK pulling though- seriously, SCH/NIN would've been soooooo much better. >_<

Until next time!

## 07 May, 2009

### My responses to the Japanese's questions.

Elmerthepointy has posted up the second round of questions from the Japanese, fired at us, the non-Japanese speaking community in an effort to bridge the cultural and language barriers. I figured this time around, I'd offer up my own answers on my blog, even though they're in the comments on JPButton.

First off, if you're not familiar with the project, what Elmer did was to gather a sample of questions from the NA players (NA in this case meaning "Not Japanese." :P), then translated and posted some of the questions onto Japanese forums for Japanese players to answer. He then reversed the roles around, gathering questions from the Japanese to ask us, translating along the way in the hopes that each side gets greater understanding of the other.

The first EN/JP questions project can be found here.

So, without further ado, here are the questions to the second round of questions from the Japanese. Questions are in bold, my answers are in plain text, and any additional comments I have will be in italics. ^^

{START button}!

1. Do foreign players have a lot of interest in joining social Japanese Linkshells? (Especially ones with only JP members) I ask because when I recruit for my shell in Japanese, I get a lot of tells from foreigners looking to join. Personally, I feel like even if they could understand my /shout, it still would be hard to keep up with regular conversation. They wouldn’t understand pop-culture references to old TV shows, for instance.

I was personally interested in joining a Japanese linkshell, if only because it allowed me to keep in touch with my Japanese language.

That being said, you are right in saying that even if foreigners did study Japanese, we wouldn’t get all the pop-culture references. However, that applies to any foreign language student that’s trying to take his language skills to everyday conversation.

Now that I am in a Japanese linkshell and I understand most of what’s going on, I get headaches after a while, and will switch into an English linkshell to relax. I assume most Japanese feel the same way too when put into an English environment.

Keeping in touch with my Japanese was indeed one of the reasons why I applied to TK, although now that much of the EN side has gone due to the Salvage bannings, the impact of what is essentially a Japanese only linkshell is hitting me. Honestly, I get such headaches trying to keep up with the chat sometimes, I just stop paying attention and come to once I realise my linkshell leader's scolding me for not reading the chatlog. :P

2. Parties that cycle in replacement members seem to be popular amongst foreigners, but a lot of times the party will just disband once the replacement arrives. Of course, there are times when the replacement is contacted before they get all the way there, but there are many instances when no one says anything. There are also many cases where inappropriate jobs are invited and the party can no longer function well.

To me, this is a big reason behind some of the negative images Japanese players have about foreign players. What do you think about this?

Ah, I was wondering when this question would get asked. ^^

I am personally not a fan of “replacement parties,” though I understand why some would do it. To some, they might think why they have to stop the xp party just because one person has to go, so they find someone to replace the leaving member and keep the party going for those that want to stay.

Unfortunately, what happens a lot of the time is that people get tired around roughly the same time, so one person leaving usually leads to a chain of other people leaving as well.

I honestly don't blame the Japanese for this kind of impression that they have, because I've only very rarely come across Japanese players that will look for replacements.

I've accepted it as just the way of doing things with English-speaking players, and try to accomodate, such as not expecting to stay as long as I might otherwise in a new party, or asking the existing members how long they plan to stay before looking for replacement members.

I'm not saying it's overall a bad thing- I've been in excellent parties that were both good xp/hr and were long because of replacements, I've just found that it's usually more trouble than not.

In my experience, the unspoken guideline is that xp parties last around two hours from when you start fighting, so I plan around that.

3. Why does it seem like many foreign players don’t bother to bring medicines and potions to Missions and BCs? Many Japanese players make sure to have Vile Elixirs, Hi-Potions and/or Reraise Earrings.

From my observation, it’s accepted here that everyone has food and Reraise, while mages have Echo Drops in addition. I generally would not expect anything else, and if I really wanted Hi-Potions, Yagudo Drinks or something else, I’d specifically mention it in party chat before setting off.

I'm also going to call on some of the claims here, because I honestly do not remember an instance where a Japanese player came extra prepared to a mission. Honestly, taken to extremes, I can ask why you're not prepared with Opo/Sleep Pots or Icarus Wings. I know there are some people that carry around a Vile Elixir just in case, but to expect one is too much in my opinion.

As I mentioned in my answer- I will plan assuming members don't have these items outside of food, reraise and echo drops for the mages. I will say if I want other specific items before setting off.

4. Sometimes I see foreign pick-up parties recruiting for members using Auto-Translate, but then when I join the party, all the conversation and battle planning is in English. I’ll ask for them to {Please use the Auto-Translate function.} but nobody ever does. If you are going to /shout for help with the Auto-Translator, why not use it in the party? It feels like I was tricked.

Interesting point. I wasn’t aware full auto-translate shouts were even effective in recruiting Japanese players!

Sorry I can’t really help out here- personally, if I’m doing a mission and have both English and Japanese players, I explain what’s going on twice- once in English and once again in Japanese.

I honestly had never considered that Japanese could actually accept an auto-translated /shout invite and come face to face with a wall of English characters only, with little conscientious effort to translate the battle plan, etc.

That being said, it does strike me as odd that the question claims that even after he/she asks {Please use the Auto-translate function}, there is no noticeable improvement. It may be that we are so used to using the translator more as a shortcut function (like Sau"TAB key") as opposed to a translator that we're just not used to, well, actually using it to translate!

5. How many NA and EU players do Campaign? Any thoughts about the recent nerf to Fortifications?

I don’t do campaign, unfortunately, so I can’t comment here either.

6. What equipment do you think has great stats but horrible looks?
What equipment do you think has the best graphics?

Ugly: Zenith Mitts! The green gloves are sooo ugly!

Pretty: I personally love seeing all the classic FF costumes, so I love AF. In fact, my first job was WHM just because in my newbie days as a BLM08, a taru WHM rode past me on a chocobo, and I saw his Healer’s Briault, and I thought to myself, “I _must_ have that!” I was so disappointed when I found you couldn’t buy a briault off the AH. T_T

One thing I've noticed is that all the jobs I've leveled have a very striking piece of AF, be it the WHM or RNG body or BLM, RDM or SCH hats or SMN horn that really exudes the classic FF feel, and also why I didn't level say, WAR or MNK whose AF I do not identify as well with. Because of that, my first melee job will probably end up being DRG, despite my protests. :P

7. Outside of your normal party gear, is there any equipment that you go out of your way to get strictly for looks? What are your favorite pieces of casual equipment?

My Goldsmithing equipment. In town, I walk around in my Goldsmith’s Apron, Shaded Spectacles and a Vulcan’s Staff. I really wish I could get my hands on a Nomad Moogle cap though. T_T

I'm proud to be a Goldsmither even though I don't actually synth for gil. In fact, I fully understand why people would use their guild aprons as town gear. Apart from advertising, it feels good to show off the fruits of your hard work, especially for a craft like Goldsmithing! >_<

8. I’m a Mithra, and I find that a lot of foreigners seem to be into Mithra fashion. They examine me and ask where I got my equipment and such. Do you think male players enjoy dressing up their Mithra in cute outfits?

I’m not a Mithra, so I can’t comment. TARUTARU FOR LIFE!

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with playing a character who is of the opposite gender that you are in real life, if anything, it might even provide some insights into what people of the opposite gender may have to consider.

I wish I still had that bookmark on some university conducting a class in WoW, where one of the assignments was to create a new character of the opposite gender and observe how your own behaviour changed. I remember finding the student's paper quite interesting, but unfortunately, cannot remember for the life of me where it was now. :(

Second, did I mention TARUTARU FOR LIFE? ^^

9. I wonder if you calculate the XP/hr of parties, and if so, do you think that Skillchain/Magic Burst or Weaponskill spam produces the best results? Before parsing became widespread, Japanese players used to think Skillchain/Magic Burst was the best.

I think it’s been quite conclusively shown that weaponskill spam parties bring in the highest xp/hr rates, especially in merit parties. That being said, don’t neglect the power of a skillchain, but skillchains now are things that are done when the opportunity arises, rather than being something you’d plan a party’s strategies around.

Parsers did one very good thing- it gave you cold, hard, numerical results, which in turn allowed us to conclusively say that if you wanted to maximize your xp/hr, this style is better. I personally pay attention to the xp/hr gained in a party.

10. How come it seems like so many people don’t utilize Search Comments properly? Why don’t they write their camp location for others to see? Also, it’s strange to see so many people seeking without basic information written like available jobs and where they can access. Don’t you want an invite?

Yes, this has been frustrating me too. Most of the time though, I’m only really concerned with what camps are taken, so I can figure out where to go, or whether to even start forming a party in the first place.

As for subjobs, it’s rare that I specifically want a certain subjob (although I have been asked to merit as WHM/DRK before) and as for areas, unless the camp is really somewhere that people might not be able to get to (like [S] regions when WotG just came out), I’ve found it a same assumption that people can go to camp, so I don’t bother looking at those in search comments, nor do I see how excluding those comments would affect your party invites.

I don't remember when the last time I invited someone based on their subjob availability was, with the exception of ignoring those with underleveled subs. Concerns with areas do crop up occasionally for me because of Campsitarus where I am usually found trying to explore any new areas (I was trying to party exclusively in WotG areas when it was released), but other than certain times like that, I'd only ask if there really were some definite barriers to entry.

11. If you know you are going to be busy, how come you don’t alert people at the beginning of the party instead of surprising everyone at the last minute?

I have no idea- this is not something I practice, although I have been the victim of such things before. If anything, I’d say this is a rather unfair generalization.

I can see where the question comes from though. Sad to say, while I have had my fair share of people suddenly leaving the party without any prior warning, the majority of such cases are from EN players.

Perhaps it's the idea that I have the right to leave if the party is bad, etc. After all, if we're stuck in a company we hate, most would say "quit your job!" or something to that extent (well, maybe not in these days...)

In the end however, these cases are few and far in between, so I do feel it's an unfair generalization of the entire EN playerbase.

12. Honestly, the largest difference in thinking between Japanse and foreign players exists in the Merit party. You often say 5 DDs and a RDM is so good, but having a single, solitary healer is hard on the RDM. Japanese realize that healers can be in short supply, so we make sacrifices to lighten their burden, like subbing a mage job, or using Utsusemi. I feel like many people don’t show proper respect to healers.

When we say JP ONLY, it isn’t always an issue of language, but the fact that we feel there are other dangers and demerits associated with a non-JP party, stemming from our different play-styles, that we wish to avoid.

This key difference in thinking, more than any race or language issue, is what really sets us apart as players. They are just looking to sit back, relax and earn some decent XP.

Please feel free to provide your own insight and thoughts.

I agree that the difference in merit parties might just come down to mentality. Personally, if I join a merit party, I want the fastest xp/hr rate, which means I expect to be pushed to my limits, mage or melee. I don’t expect it to be relaxing at all. I am there for merits first and foremost. If I really wanted to relax and get some xp at the same time, I’d party with friends exclusively, where the aim is more on socializing than getting merit points.

That being said, where’d the 5 DD and 1 RDM come from? I’ve never seen that formula around.

I was surprised to see that the OP saw merits as something relaxing, although I'll admit it's not too far fetched. I've already spelled out my thoughts on merits and how I generally don't view it as something to relax to.

The interesting point here is what is the disservice being done here- pushing the healer, or making the healer's job easier at the cost of limit points? From a WHM or RDM's perspective, as a healer, I cannot easily solo or get limit points by myself, so I'm personally out for merit points first and foremost! Thank you for the consideration towards possibly making my job easier, but I really don't mind you taking more damage if it means I have to work harder and get more xp.

I will definitely agree that if the "meripo is for relaxing" mentality is prominent throughout the Japanese community, then this might be why there is such a difference in style. On our side, merits can be seen as a chore, so get it over and done with! Besides, we all like being part of that uber party that pulls in 20k/hr, so why not work towards it? In other words, why settle for being good when you can be great?

Bonus question: What type of sushi do you like best?

Salmon! My host family in Japan were laughing at me because I love salmon, but don’t really like tuna. I hear salmon is really cheap while tuna is expensive in Japan, so my host parents were happy, too.

I looooove salmon. Actually I like fish in general although I'm not so hot with tuna and sardines for some reason. But salmon..../slurp.

Imagine my surprise when I found out salmon is the cheapest fish in Japan, too! :D

And that's it! Hopefully you found these answers insightful.

Picture lifted from vgcats.

## 22 April, 2009

### Brothers ENM solo- after the April Update

Last month, I was working on trying to improve my BLM soloing, recording, documenting and commenting on my runs to pick out mistakes and areas of improvement.

I actually have three recorded runs, although I only put two up on this blog simply because, well, I didn't think they really appealed to the general FFXI audience. The third run can be found on my BLM blog, which is collecting dust at the moment, oh well. ^^;

Then the April version update came, and while people were dashing off to strange BCs and killing {Too weak} beastmen, I went up on my weekly routine Brothers BLM solo.

That was my first encounter with the 45-second Sleep II, and suffice to say, I didn't win that run.

Then came all the talk in the forums about SE adjusting sleep durations, as reports came trickling in. Mindertaurs, Ouryu, ghosts, bombs- all could not be slept for the full 90-second duration. The days of BLM soloing Brothers seemed over.

If this issue doesn't get rectified anytime soon, the question becomes whether a RDM could still solo Brothers, since a RDM's killing speed is faster than a BLM's for obvious reasons. (*cough* Chainspell *cough*)

So I decided to check it out. Never mind that I have yet to even attempt to do this ENM as a RDM, but seriously, the strategy should be more or less the same, right?
I am not used to soloing as a RDM (and this is my first time, too), so there are some incredibly newb mistakes in the following video. Keep that in mind! >_<

Well, there are a few changes, most notably that, as a BLM, I normally just suicide after the Eldertaur's dead so I can take on the Mindertaur with full MP. As a RDM, things change as I have Refresh and Convert, but not the firepower, so I need to maximize my MP before trying to nuke the Mindertaur down, and also try to reduce its HP as much as possible before nuking.

So, the basic strategy is now to just blast the Eldertaur down, and then DoT/kite the Mindertaur until the following three conditions are satisfied:
1. The Mindertaur's at 50%HP.
2. I have full(ish) MP.
3. Convert is ready again.
Once all three conditions are met, I'd start nuking the last 50% HP by cycling through Thunder III, Blizzard III and Fire III, hopefully overpowering any Cure Vs along the way.

There were several (rather major) mistakes made during that run. I tried to make a full version, with the boring parts just sped up for completeness's sake, but silly Windows Movie Maker apparently doesn't like processing movies when the source files involved go beyond a certain total. Ah well.

[1:16] I'm not exactly sure why I'm casting Thunder III here, or why I haven't Chainspelled by this point. With the change to Sleep duration, it's even more important that I fell the Eldertaur quickly, which cold-casting Thunder III doesn't not accomplish. You can make the argument that I could've Chainspelled into Gravity to be safe, and save myself the trouble of having to wait for Gravity's cooldown later.

[1:31] /panic. :( Could've definitely kept my cool better here.

[2:00] The clock here was added later to first give the viewer a sense of the time pressure involved, but also to keep track of just how much time you really have before the Mindertaur's in a position to actively play a role in the ENM again. Remember that either taurus may cast Cure V if one of them is below 50% HP, so I definitely got very lucky here that the Mindertaur didn't Cure V the Eldertaur.

More importantly, it gives us a timeframe to work with in planning future runs- we can plan based on the assumption that you have approximately 55 seconds to knock off the Eldertaur.

Unfortunately, I can't show the entire fight here because of memory constraints (that, and it was a pretty long, boring fight), but some things to note are:
• For some reason, I had a hard time getting Poison II to stick.
• Eventually, I just settled on whittling its HP down through Bio II with a few III-nukes here and there.
• Elemental Seal-Silence also wears off too quickly.
• Composure is fantastic here!
Some things I was not happy about is that even with Convert and Refresh, it still took all my available mana to nuke down the Eldertaur, and to nuke down half a Mindertaur.

If you look carefully at the various snippets I put in here and there, you may notice that my Convert timer actually increases after a certain point- I actually set things up and was getting ready to kill the Mindertaur, but even after a Convert, I found myself unable to kill the Mindertaur, so I had to wait for Convert to cooldown again and redo that 50%. Thankfully I merited Convert down to an 8:20 recast- I'd have timed out if I left it at 10:00.

If I were to do it again, there are definitely some changes to be made, particularly at the start- I know that bit was screwed up bigtime. >_<

For one, the pull was completely wrong. I'll readily say I screwed it up bigtime, because just looking at the video reveals a lot of error. I probably slipped back into BLM mode, and just did things as I would've if I were BLM instead, thus revealing the dangers of playing on autopilot. :P

See, the whole reason why you pull the Mindertaur to the back of the tunnel when soloing this ENM as a BLM, before the Elemental Seal-Sleep II is to buy you a few extra seconds to take down the Eldertaur.

The point is, because of Manafont, a BLM's limiting resource is not mana, but time! Assuming the ENM was just a 1v1 fight against the Eldertaur, a BLM would have no problems blasting through, backed by Manafont because time is on the BLM's side.

But time is not your limiting resource as RDM because of Chainspell! Instead, mana becomes your limiting resource (for obvious reasons), but that is still a very soft limitation because of both Refresh and Convert.

So what I think I should've done instead was:
• Enter the ENM, buff, rest up.
• Run in towards the two taurus, and Elemental Seal along the way.
• When they aggro and move into range, immediately Chainspell and Sleep II the Mindertaur.
• Gravity the Eldertaur, and start nuking away with Blizzard III.
The difference is that as a RDM, you wouldn't even bother to drag the Mindertaur to the back of the tunnel, because moving back within nuking range of the Eldertaur wastes time, not to mention that you still need to cross the Eldertaur and get to a safe range on the other side. It took me eleven nukes to down the Eldertaur. Counting the Sleep II, Gravity, Convert and maybe a couple of Dispels, it shouldn't be too difficult to get 15 spells off under Chainspell, even within the 45 second naptime the Mindertaur has.

You could even get gutsy and Convert without curing yourself if time really was that tight, and plan out the following scenario (using my HP/MP as an example:)

Starting MP: 983mp
1. Sleep II: 954mp
2. Gravity: 930mp
3. Blizzard III #1: 810mp
4. Blizzard III #2: 690mp
5. Blizzard III #3: 570mp
6. Blizzard III #4: 450mp
7. Blizzard III #5: 310mp
8. Blizzard III #6: 190mp
9. Convert into 190HP/796MP
10. Blizzard III #7: 676mp
11. Blizzard III #8: 556mp
12. Blizzard III #9: 436mp
13. Blizzard III #10: 316mp
14. Blizzard III #11: 196mp
15. Blizzard III #12: 76mp
Which isn't even counting the extra MP you save/gain from Conserve MP and Refresh.

In any case, it seems that SE has now officially come forward and classified this as a "Current Known Issue," so hopefully it'll get fixed. Given SE's track record though, I think it might be a matter of when it gets fixed.

I'd really like to go back and try again before the fix though, just to prove to myself that I can do the solo smoothly on RDM, even with the enfeebling "nerf" in effect. :P

## 18 April, 2009

### Yet another layout to criticize.

Taking the comments from my last post, I went ahead with another design for Campsitarus,

One big critique I seemed to get with the previous template was that it was just too dull. Sorry, I'm not a graphics designer. ^^; I tried to spice things up a little bit more this time with little tarus that also act as visual cues to the level range they represent (although I might've overdone it with the 70s taru. ^^;)

Perhaps the header should have more colour, much like the current Campsitarus where Strawberrie's drawing of me in RDM AF provides a very striking contrast against the green-ish blogger theme.

I'm still trying to keep at least all the standard camps visible on the first fold. It's my intention to display all the alternate camps below (you'll need to scroll down). This time however, the screen resolution has been reduced down to 1024 x 768. I checked against an 800 x 600 browser, and while there will be a little side scrolling involved then, all the campsite links will still be visible.

The font size for the camp links have been increased, and are now bold. I'm not sure if this is overcompensating for the too-small links the previous time around.

I also took away the articles, even though I still think they'd be a good idea. For now though, I'll err on the side that I won't be able to keep up with the articles, and so as per Oshikorosu's suggestion, I took them off.

I'm still not sure on the colour palette. As you may be able to tell, the colours were taken from West Sarutabaruta [S] this time. It still looks rather dull, but I'm at a loss here on what else I can do to spice things up that isn't too complicated and will still load quickly.

So, opinions? Ideas? Comments?

## 15 April, 2009

### What do you think of this as a layout?

After some fiddling around with Photoshop, I came up with this:

It's open to improvement, and is only something I quickly threw together, so there're bound to be some design flaws. As I am a believer of the "you cannot see your own mistakes," I'm putting this up for public consumption. Oh, and in case anyone's wondering, it's only a picture- this does not exist on the internet yet.

So, how is it? Too dark? Too many Mandragoras? Text too small? Why am I wearing a Haubergeon and a Butterfly Axe?

Some things to consider:
• This was designed with a 1280x1024 resolution in mind, which according to the poll I put up, is the most common screen size.
• Only "Standard camps" have been displayed. From what I've heard, not many people actually use Campsitarus for the alternate camps (and correct me if I'm wrong!) so I've decided not to display the alternate camps on the first fold (that's whatever you see when the website loads).
• Where should the little explanation about standard camps and the button to flip over to Alternate camps go? Top left? Bottom right?
• If you look on the left hand side, I'm toying around with the idea of maybe providing some extra value through articles related to xp'ing. There seems to be sufficient depth to explore, but I'd like to know what you all think about the idea. Basically, it'll expand Campsitarus into more of a real blog or online magazine rather than just a list of links.
• Articles on the left, links on the right or the other way around?
• Are the text "links" of the standard camps too small for comfort? You might be wondering what is with all the empty white space, but those boxes also need to fit the alternate camp listings for when users click on that button, and there are much more alternate campsites than there are standard ones.
• Should I put info regarding BST pet camps here, and if so, where?
• Is the colour scheme too dark? I didn't really give much thought to it, and based it off the current incarnation, using colours ripped from Caedarva Mire (place of /joy that it is -_-).
Either way, I'm sure it's an improvement over the one looooong list you have to scroll down in Campsitaru's current incarnation. Please leave feedback!

## 13 April, 2009

### About a little blog of mine called Campsitarus...

Lately, I've felt rather empty in game. Sure, I'm in a good HNMLS and while the fights are nice and all that, I haven't really been satisfied with endgame. Sure, you get neat gear, some very powerful, but I haven't really felt like I've been giving back to the community.

So, I've turned my attention to a little blog of mine that I started up a few years ago called Campsitarus

You might have heard of it, or better still, even used it. ^^

I've been meaning to take Campsitarus off blogger for a long time, and have it properly hosted on its own domain, like campsitarus.com or something, following in the footsteps of other FFXI-related websites out there. Yes, I know it technically should be campsitarus.info, but that just looks odd to me.

My problem is, I'm a complete {Amateur} when it comes to website design and templating. I can design the structure of the website and I know what I want on it, but I haven't the faintest idea how to actually code everything so, well, it shows up on the screen.

Furthermore, the task of revamping Campsitarus is no longer a one-taru job. Since I first created Campsitarus way back in November 2005, I have listed 123 camps for parties, and have another 36 pet camps to write about. Some still don't have entries, which was something that really bothered me. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that that is a heckuva lot of writing. And that's not counting the camp entries I took down.

Or to be more precise, that is a heckuva lot of revising to do.

The nice part about having Campsitarus on a blog has always been that people could leave feedback in the comments when things change, like for example, the introduction of SCNMs that made the Castle Oztroja [S] merit camp not as feasible as before (and a pity, too T_T) I personally couldn't keep up with all the changes, so left it to the comments to duke them out.

It is my intention now to revise these entries to update them with any in-game changes, or maybe bring a little nugget of information, for example, BRD pullers at the Greater Colibri camp will pull with a throwing weapon (I forget which one) because the Colibris won't waste time mimicking Elegy, and the pulling distance is greater (25 yalms, as opposed to 21).

There are also a few questions and loose ends that I want to incorporate into Campsitarus. I'm thinking it might be a good idea if I wrote an occasional post about partying in general, like how to deal with Japanese or bilingual parties, or what each job has to offer, or even things like what makes a good party.

The end result would be a Campsitarus blog, with normal blog entries, as well as links somewhere on the front page to all the information that people use Campsitarus for.

For now, I think I'll fiddle around a bit on Photoshop to see if there's even space to fit everything in. -_- So many ideas, so little space...

...and did I mention I'll need help with all this?

So I'll say this again, highlighted, just because I know many people don't actually read the content word-for-word:

I am going to revamp Campsitarus and I'll need help. If you can write, edit, do web design or graphics, or would like to contribute, please {Help me out!}

Please, give me feedback on this either by e-mail (tuufless.taru(AT)gmail.com), by contacting me in-game (I'm on Odin) or leaving a commentaru below. If you're willing to give me a hand, even better! :D

P.S: If you have it, "//vanatunes play 48" is made of win. :D

## 12 March, 2009

### Brothers ENM solo #2

In my last post, I detailed out my first successful solo attempt at the Brothers ENM. I went ahead and soloed the ENM again yesterday, and with the intention of improving my play, I'm going to repeat the exercise again. Things were slightly easier this time since I wasn't as nervous going into the ENM, although as you'll see from the video, things didn't quite go according to plan, so it was a good exercise in contingencies.

I nearly lost the ENM, but fortunately the game decided to forgive my misplays.

Observations:

[00:03] Again, I entered the BC on Lightningday. This was not intentional- I actually logged out behind the ice wall the day before, and it just happened to be Lightningday when I logged back in.

[1:23] I don't think keeping Ice Spikes up is a good idea anymore because of situations like this. Sure, the Paralyze proc might be more potent than a regular Paralyze, but in this case, the Ice Spikes proc could've broken my Bind, leaving me with an unsleepable mob without Bind or Gravity. Taking away Ice Spikes will also let me use Bind more aggressively in the future.

[2:17] As you might notice, the Mindertaur had woken up and is now within my sight range. You can see the benefits of sleeping it some distance into the tunnel as means of buying some extra time while you kill off the Eldertaur.

[2:34] In retrospect, I don't think Thunder IV was the correct nuke to use here- I failed to play around Cure V, and the small sliver of health the Eldertaur had at the end made it even more painfully obvious. That being said, I'm not sure what I should've used instead- Blizzaga III is clearly out of the question because the damage would be split with the incoming Mindertaur, but Burst II might've taken too long.

[4:16] I thought it would be safe to reraise by now in the interest of saving time, so you can imagine my surprise to see the Mindertaur turn around! With no reraise on, Priority #1 was simple- get RR on.

Note to self: the Mindertaur has a very large aggro radius to sound.

[4:28] There should have been a Gravity here to buy even more time, especially since I still had to wait for the Reraise Earring's equip timer to finish! This technically almost cost me the run- I was lucky that the Mindertaur persisted in using non-damaging spells and abilities, allowing me to put on Reraise in the nick of time. Had Bind worn off earlier, or the Mindertaur cast a Banish II, I probably would've lost the ENM.

[4:45] I've considered replacing my Sorcerer's Earring with a Reraise Earring in my standing set because of situations like this. A Sorcerer's Earring will not kick in until I'm under 25% health, and in this case, the additional damage reduction wouldn't even matter. On the other hand, there have been times where I've needed to put on Reraise immediately after getting up. By equipping a Reraise Earring as part of the standing set, the timer gets to count down even when I'm unconscious, so I can get up and immediately use the earring.

[7:02] It turns out that I didn't see the Mindertaur buff with Protect when I first reraised. That being said, when I saw that Protect was dispelled, I decided to Dispel again just to make sure Shell was not on.

Two points to note- first, if you want to cancel a spell, just /heal. Running around like a headless chicken takes longer. Secondly, I remember reading somewhere that there is an order in which buffs are dispelled- that is to say that Protect would get dispelled before Shell does. I'm not sure whether this is true, since it's been a long time since I read that. Ix'MNK's Crystalline Cocoon (which puts on both Protect and Shell) contradicts that statement, since sometimes Shell is taken off first, though maybe Crystalline Cocoon behaves differently?

[8:51] This time, I end up with 344mp left, which is much more compared to my previous attempt. I totalled up the MP used to take out the Mindertaur, assuming Conserve MP did not kick in, and I got a total of 1009mp this time around, compared to 1169mp the previous attempt. The extra 160mp used the last time can easily be attributed to the extra Blizzard IV (164mp) I needed to win the last time due to a Cure V that my Silence this time prevented.

From the above, killing the Mindertaur without drinks or ethers would be very doable (well, at least for myself) assuming Cure V does not go off, though it doesn't really leave much room for error. My current nuking setup carries 1083mp, which means that I'll only have 74mp leftover if Conserve MP doesn't kick in at all. As such, non-taru BLMs will probably need to find ways to boost their MP to 1000+ to effectively solo this, at least using this method.

Further areas of improvement would obviously include not being so sloppy when things go wrong- I've mentioned that I got away lucky from that attempt, and I do not doubt that statement. In lieu of this, however, I should probably experiment around a little bit more with carrying a Reraise Earring around to see how it feels.

Finally, feel free to leave me a commentaru if you see any other areas of improvement/interest!

## 05 March, 2009

### Brothers ENM solo

For quite some time now, it's always bugged me that I've been unable to beat the ENM, Brothers, solo. The ENM is very easy to duo, and I usually duo it with my friend Sodalitas. Yet, I've always felt that if I wanted to improve as a BLM, one of the things I could work on was clearing this ENM solo consistently.

But before I start on the "consistent" part, actually beating the ENM in the first place would make a very good starting point. -_-

I've tried a few times previously with no {success}, so as expected, I was quite nervous coming into this fight. I didn't do anything special to prepare since the idea was to be able to just go and "do it"- I only brought a Reraise Earring (I'm too cheap to use a Reraise hairpin :P) and a few Yagudo Drinks. Other than that, the rest of my inventory was pretty standard fare.

I watched a couple other videos, and borrowed a few ideas from them in my own fight, which I'll elaborate further below.

For those who aren't very familiar with this ENM, you are up against two Taurus, an Eldertaur (the small one on the left) and a Mindertaur (the large one on the right). The Eldertaur is immune to Sleep, while the Mindertaur can be slept, although it's recommended you back it up with Elemental Seal first. Both are susceptible to Gravity and Bind, and will try to cast Cure V once their HP drops below 50%.

Strategy:
The general strategy is to Elemental Seal-Sleep II the Mindertaur to immobilize it. Gravity the Eldertaur, and finish it off. Use Manafont if you have to, the priority is to kill the Eldertaur.

Once the Eldertaur is dead, run back to the start point, and let yourself get killed by the Mindertaur (you don't lose xp while in the ENM). Once the Mindertaur has left, reraise (you did put Reraise on, right?) and rest up. Hard part's over.

Once you're fully healed again, take on the Mindertaur solo.

At all times, be careful of Shell III and Unblest Armor, both of which give very strong Magic Defense Bonuses to the taurus- essentially, you'll see your nuke damage halved if either are on. In addition, make sure you do not face the taurus to avoid getting Doomed by Chthonian Ray.

For duos (I usually go BLM+BLM or BLM+SCH), have one person Elemental Seal-Sleep II the Mindertaur, while the other Gravities the Eldertaur, and both take out the Eldertaur first. After that, the Mindertaur should be easy pickings.

But wait! Why talk more about the fight when I can just show it to you? (And my first video, too! :D)

I have an HD version here, but I didn't get the aspect ratio correct, so it makes me look fat! /fume (So much for 5:4 ratios :/)

Observations:
Okay, some commentarus- first, yes, I'm on Windower. Let's get that one out of the way first. Eventually, I'd like to be able to do it without the various aids that the windower gives me, namely without Recast, TimeStamp and Distance to make this more of a "true" solo attempt.

[00:03] First of all, you might notice that I entered on Lightningsday, for the obvious damage boost with Rairin obi. You don't actually need this bonus, but I figured it'd be nice to have anyways. ^^

[00:19] With regards to the pull, you will notice that I only go ahead far enough to aggro both taurus before turning back into the tunnel, which was something I got from Avesta's video. The idea is to pull and Sleep II the Mindertaur far into the starting tunnel. That way, when Sleep II wears, you buy yourself extra time because the Mindertaur has to walk all the way back to the main arena.

[00:19 - 00:50] The actual starting sequence is the same as Avesta's video- aggro both taurus, Bind the Eldertaur, Stun the Mindertaur, run a bit, Elemental Seal-Sleep II the Mindertaur, Gravity the Eldertaur and start working on it. As you work on the Eldertaur, pull it away from the Mindertaur to build distance should you not kill fast enough.

[02:06] This should've been Thundaga III- neither mana nor longer cast time leading to spell interruption is an issue because of Manafont, and should the nuke get resisted, a Thundaga III would've dealt more damage than Firaga III.

[02:20] Not sure why I stopped and turned around here- probably force of habit. In this particular case, I wanted to get killed, and the sooner the better. :P

[04:24] You might notice I put Reraise on again. This is not necessary, just an extra precaution since I still have time to die, rest and try again if I don't manage to kill the Mindertaur.

[05:24] Yes, I forgot to use my Yagudo Drink at the start of the second half. -_-

[06:24] There should've been a Silence before this nuke to prevent the upcoming Cure V.

[07:02] Elemental Seal-Silence was something I got from Metticus's video. You don't really need to sleep the Mindertaur again, but you do want to prevent him from Cure V'ing himself, especially since your mana pool is a lot more constricted this time around. In my case, I should've Silenced him earlier than I did, making the fight safer overall.

[07:30] This last Blizzard IV nuke was risky. Yes, Gravity wore off unexpectedly, but still, I should've tried to Bind or at least Stun the Mindertaur after the Thunder IV first, just in case. Had the Mindertaur double attacked, got lucky and broke my Stoneskin through Blink, I could've had that Blizzard IV interrupted and now I'm cornered with a speedy Mindertaur on my heels.

[08:12] What exactly is the correct legal jargon for this sort of thing?? /confused

[08:19] Love it or hate it, I just can't like the weather in Uleguerand Range. -_-

I'm still a little bit worried about the Mindertaur solo- if you count up all the mana costs associated with solo'ing the Mindertaur, the grand total comes up to 1144mp, which is definitely more than what I carry around. Of course, this is not taking Conserve MP into account, nor the one Aspir I made for 96mp. If I were to take that Aspir into consideration, the total goes down to 1048 which just barely makes it into my mana pool (1083mp total).

Admittedly, the Mindertaur fight could've gone slightly better- that Cure V that went off probably cost me an extra III-nuke's worth of mana, which an earlier Silence could've saved. In addition, looking at how close the total MP spent comes to my max MP, a Yagudo Drink might actually be relevant. :o

Of course, one further trick I could do would be to first nuke in a real max-MP setup, with my Zenith Crown +1, Mahatma pigaches and Morgana's Choker on for +120mp. The damage won't be as high, but it covers 73% of a Blizzard IV in mana, so that might be something to look into.

That's all I managed to pick out from watching over my own play. I'm still looking to improve though, so if there are other things I overlooked, please let me know!

## 02 March, 2009

### February.

Listing one's accomplishments and newfound loot in blogs like these is fairly commonplace, and was something I subscribed to back in the day. Of course, the interest in that quickly died out, since after all, who really wants to read about the stuff you got?

And so the post count plummeted. :P

That being said, I do feel that I ought to look back over the past month, more of an exercise on my own progress than anything else. For obvious reasons, I meant to post this on the last day of February, but my modem's power adaptor burnt out. -_-

So, here's how my February went:

1) Sorcerer's Belt (1st Feb 2009)
TK usually goes to Dynamis on Sunday mornings, JP time. In an effort to get me cleared through to Dynamis-Tavnazia, we headed over to Valkurm. We cleared the boss as per our normal routine, and then proceeded to farm for AF. I'm not sure exactly what adjustments SE made to Dynamis drop rates in that update ages ago, but it was literally raining AF- unfortunately I must've misplaced that screenshot where our loot pool had six AF pieces in at the same time.

Anyway, I don't remember how many people wanted the BLM belt- if memory serves me correctly, there were only about 2-3 people, myself included. Eventually, one Sorcerer's Belt dropped, we all cast lots, and the belt went to another BLM in the shell.

The run went on, but towards the end, we went after another set of Manticores and Sheep, and another Belt dropped! Thanks to an unfortunate pull though, things were rather hectic, and I quickly cast my lot on the second belt.

Not too much later, with the leader pushing people to quickly pass on items, I saw the belt drop into my inventory, which is why I'm not sure how many people actually wanted the Belt that run.

Either way, I'm glad to have what is probably one of the best BLM-only belts out there. :D

2) Sorcerer's Petasos +1 (2nd Feb 2009)
The belt wasn't the only thing that dropped that Valkurm run- somewhere in there, a Sorcerer's Petasos -1 also dropped. Alas, compared to the Belt, this drop was resolved quickly and quietly once we realised I was the only one in the run who put the BLM AF-1 as part of my wishlist for Valkurm. I guess everyone else must've gone for a different job. :P

I bought 28 Tukuku Whiteshells from the LS bank, and wasted no time in trading all the relevant materials to Sagheera for the upgrade.

Next day:

This is also the most I've officially ever spent on +6MP. But white border! >_<

3) Zenith Mitts +1 (16th Feb 2009)
A few posts ago, I had managed to pick up a pair of Cursed Mitts -1 from a bazaar. I'm still not quite sure about the price, but after a little haggling, I managed to buy it for 8m gil. Now, the only problem was that at the time, I think I only had a little over 3m on me.

Thankfully, I was able to borrow 5m off Celestria to cover the remaining 5m, and listed my Mahatma Houppelande and Hedgehog Bomb up on the AH, which thankfully sold rather quickly (at 300k profit, too! :D) so I could repay Celes.

The problem now was getting the abjuration. -_-

Despite the fact that I've been playing FFXI for a while now, and have killed my share of Genbus here and there, I have yet to even see an A-hands, yet alone get ahold of one.

So, the task fell upon trying to get ahold of A-hands. Since TK doesn't do sky anymore, that leaves two options- either try to get the Genbu pop items myself, or Fafnir.

TK does Fafnir. :P

Only problem was, we couldn't claim Fafnir. In fact, the two times we did manage to get the claim, it was Nidhogg instead, though that really isn't something to complain about. XD After that, in the wee hours in the morning, BBQ and TK teamed up due to lack of members and actually managed to claim Fafnir, but A-hands didn't drop.

However, Ridill did. :o

Well, on the 16th Feb 2009, just over five weeks after I got the -1 Mitts, TK managed to claim Fafnir, and finally, I get to see A-hands. XD Luckily, the rest of the members had been around enough to the point where nobody needed A-hands anymore, so it defaulted to me.

Off to San d'Oria I went, and voila! My first piece of cursed gear! :D

4) Zenith Crown +1 (24th Feb 2009)
Unlike the Zenith Mitts, I actually had the A-head abjuration for quite some time now, and was just waiting for an opportune moment to pick up a Cursed Crown -1. For those who are wondering why I'm going with -1, I did my Stoneskin and Sorcerer's Ring calculations in advance, and as long as I was nuking in an obi, an NQ Zenith Crown would fall short of the 75% HP threshold needed to activate the Sorcerer's Ring by just 3hp. So unless I wanted to carry around another item to lower my HP, HQ it was. :P

I didn't really want to pay AH price for it, so I contacted my Goldsmithing buddy, Nynaeve to help me try to make a Cursed Crown -1, which he got around to doing. It took him a couple months, but that was okay, since I didn't really have the spare cash to buy it off him at the time.

Luckily, he saved it for me, and when I got my pay from TK, I bought the crown off Nynaeve at a discounted price of 1.1m. And I was off to San d'Oria again! :D

5) Morgana's Choker (24th Feb 2009)
With a Zenith Mitts +1 and a Zenith Crown +1 in hand, all I needed to complete my Sorc Ring setup was just two things, one of which was a Morgana's Choker. To be honest, I was a little reluctant at getting one, because the choker would serve only as a Sorc Ring piece- I have no use for the +MND on the choker because I was planning to use a Stone gorget for Stoneskin.

My initial plan was to either get a Dalmatica (I wish ; ;) or a Serket Ring to lower my HP down by that last bit, but then I looked over my numbers again, and saw that -40HP would suffice and not -50HP.

Thus, Morgana's Choker.

Luckily, TK has been steadily growing more active in Einherjar, and I didn't particularly have any need for the ichor, so I had stockpiled a small sum of ichor, which in this case, came in handy. :D

Morgana's Choker get!

6) Sorcerer's Ring (24th Feb 2009)
With Zenith Mitts +1, Zenith Crown +1 and a Morgana's Choker in hand, the last thing I was missing for my Sorc Ring set was, well, the ring itself. -_-

Thankfully, ENMs had been fortunate to me that month, and Sodalitas and I split both a Hedgehog Bomb and Hagun, which paid for the Sorcerer's Ring. I bought it a little high, at 1.18m- the price has since fallen down to 1.15m, but it doesn't really affect me, since my purchase from Nynaeve saved me that money and then some.

Ring in hand, my Sorc Ring setup was now complete! All I really needed at this point was an Ixion Cape to round it off, but that can wait. ^^

7) Merciful Cape (24th Feb 2009)
One other thing I was working on was my Elemental setup. In fact, I already had an Elemental Setup, giving me 329 Elemental Skill and 122INT (without food), but in the name of efficiency, I found out that I could actually forgo using an Elemental torque and still hit the 320/120 mark.

Why would I ditch the torque? My reasoning was, if I got a Merciful cape, I could reach 322 Elemental Skill without a torque or a weskit. That being said, I felt it'd be better to aim towards damage in the body and neck slots, which would mean Morrigan's coat (I wish ; ;) and a Prudence torque.

The difference is, a Prudence Torque can also be swapped out for an Uggalepih Pendant when needed. If I stuck with Elemental Torque and Ixion Cape, I cannot use the Uggalepih Pendant and still maintain 320+ Elemental Skill. But with a Merciful Cape, I can maximize my damage with the Pendant (7MAB > 5INT) and still maintain 320 Elemental Skill.

The only problem was getting a damn Cape. -_-

Sodalitas and I have been duo'ing Ix'MNK for quite some time now, farming H.Q. Aern organs solo or duo in our free time. The fight against Ix'MNK is easy- we solo it when the other is not around- duo's just faster, but the drop date is abysmal.

Thankfully, we saw our first vice of antipathy today, and after casting lots, it fell to me. Now, all I need is a Prudence torque to complete my Elemental skill set. :P

Oh, and if anyone wants to compare {luck}, we were 1/29 on the vice drop. Hopefully the second drop won't take as long. (/pray)

Wrapping up
So, that was my February in a nutshell, at least in terms of me getting shiny stuff. :D There are a few other incidents here and there, including a GM asking me about a Jeweled Egg and me seeing a Macha's Coat, but losing the lot (/cry), but I guess some of those things would be better saved for another time (read: this post is getting long enough already. -_-)

One last thing- I've started working on a little resource for BLMs. Like Campsitarus, it is extremely crude at the moment, and honestly, I don't know what direction I'm going to take it, if it even develops. Currently, I plan to put all my BLM musings there, although whether it will turn into a BLM-blog, or a BLM resource blog is undecided.

The information there is very basic and simple, so right now, it's pretty much for my reference only. I don't envision it taking over Kaeko's BLM guide, at least, not to that level, but if anyone wants to take a look and give suggestions, clicky below to see for yourself:

http://thunderiv.blogspot.com

Oh, and if there are any BLMs or SCHs out there who would like to contribute, please let me know! :D