29 March, 2006

Monk party!

One of the reasons I've been leveling up my Red Mage was to help get more data on certain xp camps for my compilation, which, for the most part as been rather successful as far as data collection has gone. However, in terms of filling out data for the higher end merit parties, my Black Mage has been able to gather all the data I need except for one piece of information.

Information regarding a KRT Monk party. (Actually, this isn't quite true- I still need data on the Ulli camp in sky. ^^;)

For obvious reasons, Black Mages have no role in a MNK PT, rampaging through the lower levels of King Ranpere's Tomb. In fact, MNK PTs are probably one of the most stagnant party setups I've ever come across, as far as variations and flexibility goes. MNK parties are practically always MNK MNK MNK BRD RDM WHM, with the only real choice being whether to replace either the RDM or WHM for a fourth MNK (which doesn't really happen too often).

The reason for this is that mana is your #1 enemy here. MNK parties do fantastic damage to the undead, however, they themselves take a sizable amount of damgae, and a lot of curative magic is required. Even with two Ballads and a Refresh, a White Mage's mana pool seems to shrink with frightenting speed, which is a problem when you want to gun for the really, really high chains MNK parties are known to get.

At least a RDM has his or her Convert timer to fall back upon, but good 'ol fashioned mana conservation and regeneration are the key to keeping the WHM active, and believe me, you'll want an active WHM.

Anyway, I've been leveling my RDM up as a second job to 75, but also in the hopes that I'd join a MNK party so I can answer some of the question I had. MNK parties are not by any means completely foreign to me, since I've heard stories, and have on occasion seen MNKs passing through KRT while manaburning there in the old days, but there were some specific details that I wanted, in particular, the route(s) the party would take.

Ironically, I was busy hanging out with Sakurato after just completing our duo'ed Brothers ENM when it caught my attention that there was a BRD75 lfg, with a static MNK. A quick search revealed no parties in KRT, as well as a seeking WHM, and two more MNK75s.

I was debating whether I should try forming a party based on this, but by the time I disbanded the party with Sakurato and made up my mind, the Bard was gone. Such is the nature of indecision, I guess. ; ;

I really wanted to go on a MNK party though, so I did another search and noticed that there were no seeking RDMs within 73-75. I decided to put up my lfp flag in the hopes I'd be noticed, and get invited as a RDM72. ^^

Sure enough, a few minutes later, I get the tell:

{Hello!}{Monk}{Party}{Do you need it?}

As some would put it, "Hooooowwwwwwwwwwww lucky!" ^^

The party setup was, as expected, three Monks, a Bard, a White Mage, and myself. I quickly changed over to a White Mage subjob, and then it was off to King Ranperre's Tomb!

I have to admit though, it had been a very long time since I had last set foot in KRT, which is strange, since I remember manaburning in KRT quite a lot whilst leveling my Black Mage. In fact, I actually dinged 75 in King Ranperre's Tomb itself, so it's rather strange that I've since abandoned the KRT as my haunt (no pun intended). I guess part of it is due to the rather low numbers a party of 75s get when killing Spartoi Warriors. I mean, why settle for low numbers when you can manaburn in the Lufaise Meadows for generally better xp?

I've also since gained a dislike towards manaburning for merit points, partially because I think I've been spoilt by Sakurato's and Xmode's merit parties, too. In any case, somehow, manaburning just isn't as interesting as it used to be. Sakurato and I were actually in a Lufaise Meadows manaburn a while ago, and it was sooo boring, both of us nearly fell asleep. ^^;

In any case, we snuck down to the Strange Apparatus to make our initial preparations and heal up mana, and then, we were off!

I have to admit, Monk parties are incredibly hectic for the mages. Between Hasting, Refreshing, taking off status ailments, Silencing, Dispelling, and Curing, I barely had any time to do anything, and was practically casting non-stop from the get-go. It was kinda fun though, and as time passed by, I felt our Bard wasn't pulling aggressively enough, so I then took it upon myself to pull as well. ^^

Of course, certain concessions needed to be made, but eventually, I settled upon taking it easy, and hanging out at the back row with the White Mage for Chains #1 through to #5, before moving up front and pulling for Chains #6+. Besides, being able to pull a Lemure or Spartoi Sorcerer with Silence really does help speed the kills up, since you're not stuck waiting for a spell to be interrupted before the mob actually, y'know, starting walking over to you. (Especially if it's Ancient Magic. -_-)

I knew that Lemures were one of the big "speed bumps" a MNK party encounters, mostly because unlike skeletons, Lemures are incredibly resistant to blunt attacks. However, a White Mage's Banish III temporarily removes this resistance, letting the MNKs do full damage. I was then told that, if our WHM was busy, I could also Banish II to give the same effect.

Much to my embarrassment, I then found out that Banish II was one of those spells I skipped along the way whilst leveling WHM. >_<


Hey, never did I expect I'd need to use Banish II, of all things! (Although I did have a similar situation in Promyvion-Vahzl, when I realised I couldn't cast Stonega II. ^^;)

I also found it really funny when all the monks would simultaneously unload Asuran Fists on the skeleton, killing it almost instantly. However, in the cases where there was some semblance of communication going on, we actually had a full Light skillchain going in the form of {Asuran Fists}→{Raging Fists} (Fusion)→{Dragon Kick} (Light)!

Anyway, we kept at "the loop" for a few hours, until it got to the point where I myself, was actually getting a little bit dizzy from running around in circles over and over again. Our killing rate was pretty good though, and we'd find ourselves completing the loop just in time for the mobs to respawn where we were.

Despite our best efforts though, Chain #20 was the highest we were able to get. I sent /tells to Nappycat and Hirushi, asking about this, and they said that it was because we were on the loop that we were getting just #20. To put it simply in their words, "the loop sucks."

Their recommendation was to take the other MNK party route, that starts not too far away from the loop, but instead works its way towards Vrtra's room in the far east of King Ranperre's Tomb. I suggested this, and we decided to try it just once, since it was rather late, and shifted camp.

The Vrtra route certainly has a lot more mobs to kill, but just feels more dangerous. In fact, we actually had two deaths on the Vrtra route itself. I can also sort of see how one can get the really high chains on the Vrtra route, but another thing I noticed was how good pulling helps with the chains.

For example, there was a section on the Vrtra route that, when we passed through, was rather long and devoid of mobs. There was no way we'd be able to run the distance over to the next set of mobs, and still keep the chain when you have barely a minute to actually kill the next mob before the time limit expires.

Then it came to my realisation that this was an area with a bad pull. Getting blood aggro, one of the Mnks attracted the attention of not only the skeleton he was trying to pull with Provoke, but the attention of the five Skeletons around it. We managed to defeat them all with the help of a few two-hour abilities, but that in turn left the room empty, and so, the run to the next set of mobs was long.

The better plan would be to pull them one by one, safely, so that they formed a stepping stone path of sorts, letting the party inch closer and closer to the next set of mobs, so that the interval isn't large.

Time passed really quickly in that party. In fact, we spent a good 3-4 hours down there, and it only felt like just two hours or so. Nevertheless, because of its hectic nature, I became very tired towards the end of the party, so I was happy to have it end. All in all, I got some 30k xp, dinging RDM73 in the process, so overall, very satisfied. ^^

I'd like another MNK party someday, that's for sure. ^^

A Montage of Happenings

It's really been a while since I last updated! Sorry, but I just haven't had much to write about as of late, but I guess that's just the way things flow. I have on the other hand, accumulated a few adventures, that I could briefly write about though. ^^

Sakurato and Xmode were leveling their PLD and DRK down in Behemoth's Dominion the other day when Xmode ding'ed PLD37. Unfortunately, he had forgotten his scroll of Flash, and so he asked me to quickly bring him one, since I was free then.

Walking down to the party, I then decided to pop over to see if Behemoth was up. Bear in mind, my past experience (or lack thereof) of the endgame has meant that I have never seen Bahamoth, or any of the three king mobs before, and at least getting a glimpse of these mobs have been one of my objectives, if a minor one at that.

So, I continue onwards to Behemoth's spawn point, and guess what I see?

Not just Behemoth, but a King Behemoth, too! I'm not sure what dropped though, but it was fun seeing KB at least. I'm sure if I joined an HNMLS and started camping him though, the tenth time will be a bore. -_-


I've been ENM'ing a little bit as well, convincing people to do the Bionic Bug ENM as well as duo'ing Brothers with Sakurato on her BLM. The xp in total, amounted to 6,500xp in two ENMs, although the drops, on the whole sucked. I think the total treasure pool from both ENMs amounted to 9k. >_< At least it was fun though. ^^

Someone once asked how to duo Brothers with two BLMs, and really, it's quite simple. Just have one (prefably both) BLMs come BLM/RDM (Sakurato doesn't have RDM leveled, so she came BLM/WHM), and put up the usual buffs.

i.e: Reraise (via Earring), Protect II, Shell II, Stoneskin, Blink, Phalanx, Aquaveil.

One Black Mage casts an Elemental Sealed-Sleep II on the Mindertaur (that is, the big 'taur), while the other Black Mage casts Gravity on the Eldertaur (the small one). Both BLMs then proceed to nuke the Eldertaur with everything they have. Seriously. Forget about hate and all that. Just open with Thunder IV and kite the Eldertaur around (Gravity stuck, right??) if you have hate, keeping it in range of the other BLM's spells. The key is to kill the Eldertaur before the Mindertaur wakes up.

Once the Eldertaur's dead, it's elementary from here. If the other BLM hasn't used Elemental Seal yet, put another ES-Sleep II on the Mindertaur after it wakes up to reset buffs, and catch a breather for some MP, before going for the kill again. Voila! Brothers ENM done!

We also did Bionic Bug with an all-mage setup. On a whim, I got together Onekomaru, Hirushi and Xmode, and we all decided to take on the Bionic Bug ENM, which pits us against a single Bugboy, which can 2hr (Mighty Strikes) multiple times. The nice thing about Mighty Strikes though, is that rather like Berserk, he takes double damage while Mighty Strikes is active.

We were RDM/NIN, RDM/WHM, BLM/WHM and BRD/WHM. Our strategy was to simply kite Bugboy up and down the (long) pathway leading to the main battlefield while the other two people who didn't have hate try nuking the Bugboy out. It was fun. ^^ Initially, the plan was to have Gravity on the Bugboy to make things easier, but as he built Gravity resistance, that plan obviously went to dust. We still (somehow) managed to make a decent attempt at kiting him though, and he eventually gave up the dust.

All that was 3k xp and...a piece of cassia lumber. 1k on the AH. orz


On a completely unrelated note, I also got around to xp'ing my Black Mage to make up for the lost xp in Dynamis, as well as complete another merit point.

Except I was doing it solo. ^^

King Buffalo on the very top of the Uleguerand Range make for very nice xp for a BLM/RDM, each yielding a base xp of 240-300xp. Chaining them is difficult, since they seem to have quite a bit of HP, but with an Empress Band on, I did get a Chain #1 for some very nice xp. XD

The nice thing about King Buffalo is that they are both Sleepable, and strangely enough, are also Aspir-able, too! In addition, the Uleguerand Range frequently experiences double blizzard weather, so the potential +20% Magic Attack Bonus on Blizzard spells makes the killing slightly easier. I'd really only come up here if I had xp in mind though, otherwise Fire Elementals in sky give a better money/xp ratio.

You really want to be /RDM for King Buffalos though, since Gravity speeds things up a whole lot. I initially was alternating between nuking and sleeping, but after watching some JP BLMs solo these along with me, I've since changed my tactics to Thunder IV-Blizzard IV-Sleep, which I can get off thanks to Gravity.

Anyway, 9k solo xp later, I finally capped my BLM's xp, and completed my merit point. -_- Funnily enough, a BLM manaburn party also came up here and we were sharing the mobs for a bit, except one of the BLMs had plans and needed to go, and since I was just there, well, why not have me replace the BLM? ^^ I got another merit point's worth of xp out of the manaburn. ^^ I have to adimt though, I'm not the biggest fan of manaburning for merits, but hey, the feeling was nostalgic. ^^


In other news, I've been contemplating retirementaru more and more as of late. I'm not sure why, but I don't seem to have the same drive to do things in-game as I did in the past (hence the lack of updates). In an effort to counter this, I decided to, well, *gasp*, try out HNM once more.

Yes, I know there are those who really don't like the idea of HNM, and I am one of them. However, I feel that the HNM scene is something I ought to at least try out before I go, and so I asked around for ideas, suggestions, and whatnot. My problem is that I feel joining an HNMLS in an effort to revitalize the game is joining for the wrong reasons. I mean, why commit yourself to something when you feel you are on the verge of quitting? *sigh* I don't know really...

The end result is that I've got Sakurato to talk to her LS, TeamKanican (TK) about accepting me as a member. I'm still somewhat reluctant to actually join, despite the fact that Sakurato's pushing really hard for me. Part of this is because I'm a little afraid of what might happen if I join.

Anyway, TK is originally a Japanese HNMLS that has since recruited an NA segment as well. From what I hear, they're pretty respected as a HNMLS, keeping a slightly lower profile than the other "big" LS'es out there. This duality suits me just fine, since I speak both languages (to a certain extent!) and can fit things depending on whichever end of the (real life) planet I happen to be on.

However, to avoid drama, entry into TK is very strict, and works on a veto system. That is to say, if one person says "no", that's it. No.

I'm not particularly worried about the outcome though. If I get in, then I get to experiment around with endgame once more. If I don't, well, it's back to normal for me. ^^

20 March, 2006

Dear Square-Enix...

Dear Square-Enix,

Please get better servers, fix the memory leaks in your coding, or change the coding to minimize the effects of the three-letter word that is the bane of all solo players out there:


I'm sooooo frustrated right now, I don't even know where to begin. To summarize, I've died three times in the past three hours, two more times in an ENM (which ended up costing me the ENM, btw), all because of lag.

I understand that lag is an inevitable part of an MMORPG, since there needs to be some established communications between the server and the client. However, knowing this, could you at least program things such that battles aren't decided by one's latency?

For example, in the Brothers ENM:

Notice how I was interrupted without taking any damage. This isn't spell interruption due to physical damage taken by myself. This is spell interruption caused by moving as the spell is being cast.

The problem? I was standing still at the time.

Similarly, this case just a few seconds afterwards:

I had just Manafonted. There is no way physical damage will interrupt my spells now. I run away from the Eldertaur (who's out to kill me), get a fair distance away from him, STOP, and cast Thundaga III....only to see it get interrupted.

Again, spell interruption induced by the system thinking I'm still moving, even though at the time of casting, I was stationary.

I can understand how the effects of Lag are dampened in a party situation. After all, you might miss a Magic Burst, or a closing weaponskill. Those can always be adjusted. However, there are certain applications where a success and defeat are determined by Lag, and such instances should be eliminated if at all possible.

People playing solo in delicate situations, like the above case, rest their success upon being able to execute a fine-tuned strategy, and throwing in random monkey wrenches due to latency is a surefire way to kill them.

Ninjas trying to put up an Utsusemi, or Paladins trying to fire off that life-saving Cure IV both need low latency in order to just do their job. Fortunately, Ninjas and Paladins generally don't move while tanking in an xp party, so at least their spells aren't interrupted by lagging movement, but it's a right pain when you're trying to put up shadows and there's a 2-3 second in between when you execute the command, and when it actually goes off.

For the record, I was trying to solo the Brothers ENM. It is not easy, and I had a strategy planned out based off watching Avesta's successful attempt at it. The plan was all set. I walked up to the top of the Uleguerand Range, and got my key item.

On the way back up, I caught Brontotaur aggro, and would've easily dispatched it, except, well, I tried Stunning the Brontotaur, and it was a full 3 seconds before I even started casting Stun, which was then interrupted because the Brontotaur had been pounding on me during that period. Of course, I died thereafter, being at just 14 hp after my life-saving Stun was interrupted. Had it gone off, I could've Slept, Cured, and then went on to kill the Brontotaur.

I decided to solo some King Buffalo on the top of the mountain while waiting for the weather to clear so I could make my way through to Bearclaw Pinnacle. It went good for a while, until after a rather long pause in between Sleeps waiting for my Aspir to reset, the King Buffalo woke up. I tried to Stun and Sleep, except, well, the Stun didn't go off in a timely manner, and I once again found my hit points plummeting as I desperately tried to fire off the Sleep that would never resolve because of all the intermediate hits I was taking in the 2-3 seconds between when I mashed my Sleep macro, and when I'd actually start casting Sleep.

Never mind, I Reraised, rested, and went back to killing more King Buffalo. I open the fight with a Thunder IV, and Sleep the incoming Buffalo.

The Sleep is resisted.

I try to fire off a Sleep II to save myself, but guess what? The Sleep II never resolved. In the time it took the King Buffalo to run up to me, pummel through my Stoneskin, Blink, and Phalanx, I was mashing my Sleep II macro and never cast it. Well, not successfully at least. I only started casting it after my Stoneskin was gone, and I was crossing my fingers in the hopes that when the Sleep II actually started firing off, the timing would be such that I wouldn't get hit while casting. Of course, that didn't happen.

I was now 3k from capped xp, and decided to try the ENM out anyway, since if I won, I'd return to capped BLM xp. First attempt, I try Binding the Eldertaur, except that the Bind was interrupted by latent movement (even though I had been only inching towards the two taurus), and before the intermediate period where you can start recasting an interrupted spell was over, I had two very angry Taurus ganging up on me and I died.

I reraised and tried again. This time, I got the opening Bind to stick, as well as the Elemental Seal'ed Sleep II on the Mindertaur and a Gravity on the Eldertaur! Things were actually looking promising for once! Then came the task of nuking the Eldertaur.

Thundaga III. Resolved.

Firaga III. Interrupted to latent movement (first screenshot).

Blizzaga III. Resolved.


Thundaga III Interrupted to latent movement (second screenshot).

I died thereafter because I had to obviously stand still while casting, but the spell I was casting was interrupted anyway, so I basically gave the Eldertaur free time to catch up to me, not to mention lost time on the Gravity.

So there you have it. Five deaths, none due to player ability. All due to lag.

Lag is a disease in any online game. Especially dying to it. It's not like you made a mistake, or weren't skilled enough. You just died because of external conditions, kinda like the game just saying "You need to die." It's incredibly frustrating, and I lost a good three hours and 3k xp because of lag alone. That's just one person- me. Imagine how much trouble's caused out among all the servers because of latency problems.

I'm not even going to say "do this" and sign off without leaving so much as a suggestion or two to help.

The simplest solution would be to upgrade the hardware. I'm on a T3 connection, with an up-to-date system so I'm very sure the equipment over on my end meets the requirements. On the other hand, the servers on the other side might need some upgrading to process the massive amount of data transfers needed to run an MMORPG.

Alternatively, if you can't fix the hardware, fix the software. Make it so that it is harder to interrupt spells through movement, since that is directly connected to lag issues. Alternatively, have the system process things with a certain error window in mind. For example, if I cast Bind, have the system assume I cast Bind with a one second error margin in any direction. If in anywhere in that two second window, my Bind could resolve, let it resolve for real. That would get around certain latency issues.

(An /angry taru)

17 March, 2006

37.5 million gil...

...is the approximate cost (including sellback) of leveling Goldsmithing from GS70, to GS80.

It is one of my proudest accomplishments to date. Going into Goldsmithing "hell", and making it through to tell the tale. ^^

To be honest, I haven't the foggiest idea how I managed to come up with the money. Well, I guess I have a sense of it at least. In the beginning, I funded it through mass gardening, growing Platinum Nuggets (before that market was driven to the ground) to fund the early stages of Goldsmithing.

A big donation from a friend (Faeyth) who quit the game and left me everything (including a very nice chunk of change) let me buy my Nobles Tunic, which I later resold to fund Goldsmithing, since I figured that was what he wanted. (I still miss the Tunic, tho...; ;)

Finally, a lucky ENM resulting in two Hedgehog Bombs from the same Armoury Crate gave the final push I needed in order to make it through to the end, which was a very good thing, because I actually ended up with less money than the cost of a Hedgehog Bomb, so I guess it was a good thing I did that ENM! XD

So yeah, I'm finally complete with one of the toughest periods of Goldsmithing, or crafting for that matter. Now, before the Clothcrafters come banging on my door waving the bill for Clothcraft 99→100 in my face, let me say this: A Clothcrafter at 99 has already "made it". Only an Elite Beret +1 strikes out as the notable synth you might want to strive for that would require a Clothcraft 100 in order to break the 11-tier on, but you won't really be breaking any extra tiers by going into the last level, so it's more for completeness' sake that you get that final level.

However, Goldsmithers have to go through the 70s in order to even have a shot at making it to the endgame synths, and as such, they go through a harder time trying to get past their "hell" stage.

Anyway, I'm glad I'm through the 70s. ^^ Now to just hope I don't smash too many Elemental Ores...XD

12 March, 2006

LimitBreak vs. Absolute Virtue

Absolute Virtue: At lassst the time has come.. The ssscattered fragments of my thoughtsss once again mine. Long forgotten memoriesss filling me once more... However...these memories generate sssuffering... These thoughtsss...bring remorssse...

Tell me...for what sssearcheth thou, to travel this far? Show me...by what principlesss art thou driven?

98% is about as good as anyone has gotten, 70% = writing history.

I normally don't write much about HNM and the endgame scene (mostly because, well, I don't like the endgame scene), but what transpired was just so big, I don't think I could forgive myself for not writing something on it.

First, I need to make a disclaimer. I was in no way involved in this fight. Heck, I (much to my dismay) don't even have sea access, so I couldn't even go down to watch the fight even if I wanted to. All the information presented here is my interpretation of the events that occured based on what I heard from friends in Odin, and from the forums that, essentially "covered" the event. Of course, if someone was actually there could come in and correct/straighten out some things here, all the better. ^^

Sometime on the 11th of March, the HNMLS LimitBreak went down to sea to pop and fight two Jailers of Love in an attempt to spawn the current top dog on the Vana'diel bounty list:

Absolute Virtue.

Of course, actually beating Absolute Virtue (or just "AV" for short) is something else altogether. To the best of my knowledge, Absolute Virtue was first discovered sometime around 3rd November 2005, when a linkshell on Pandemonium killed the Jailer of Love, only to find that Absolute Virtue popped afterwards!

From that very first encounter, people learnt the following facts about Absolute Virtue:

* AV can use all fifteen two-hour abilities, each multiple times.
* AV starts out with a ridiculous Auto-Regen.
* AV's regular hits deal about 300 damage to a PLD.
* AV's magic is primarily Wind-based (Aeroga IV, Aero V, and is instantcast.
* When AV uses Manafont, it start castings Comet, Meteor, and Tornado II in addition to the above.
* AV's version of Call Wyvern summons 3-6 Wyverns, each of which can cast Thundaga III.

They were barely able to even scratch Absolute Virtue- the lowest that first attempt got AV down to was about 97% HP, whereby AV's Regen promptly restored its HP to 100% before the Black Mages were up and ready for a second volley of nukes.

Anyway, back to LimitBreak. Led by Masago, LimitBreak is one of the more well-known linkshells in Odin, partially because a lot of their members are very dedicated to the endgame. I have quite a few friends in LimitBreak despite the fact that I choose not to participate in endgame activities, so the group has my respect in the sense that I feel they are good at what they do.

LimitBreak took down two sets of items to spawn the Jailer of Love in the attempt to pop Absolute Virtue, and while the first kill resulted in no pop, Absolute Virtue showed up after the second kill, and it was off to the races!

At first, the linkshell was plagued with problems. AV was just too powerful to really be contained, and the massive regen was something else that the linkshell couldn't deal with. LimitBreak used Shadowbind to hold AV in place while dealing with its various 2-hr abilities, including Call Wyvern. Unfortunately, the lowest they managed to get AV down to was about 98% health.

Until, all of a sudden, after about two hours of fighting, AV seemed to run out of mana, and stopped 2-hour'ing!

This alone, was news to everybody out there, and word spread like wildfire across not just Odin, but across all the other servers as well. For the next twenty-four hours or so, a lot of eyes were on LimitBreak and their encounter with Absolute Virtue. The fact that AV went though a stage of melee-only meant that things had become a whole lot more manageable, and now the question was what to do about the situation.

The problem was that LimitBreak still hadn't been able to break through AV's Auto-Regen, so while AV was easier to contain due to no more 2-hrs, they had reached a stalemate. As Miriamel put it, "We could technically hold it forever," although they could not actually damage AV at this point in time.

There was a little hiccup in the middle when someone accidentally Call for Help'ed, and so LimitBreak waited and reclaimed AV when AV turned yellow again. Somehow, it had refreshed some or all of its mana, and was casting again, although it still did not 2-hr.

By this time, it was getting late, and people were tired and needed sleep. LimitBreak members took it upon themselves to work in shifts, keeping AV claimed throughout the night as members went to sleep and got in some much needed rest.

LimitBreak members woke up and assembled together to re-engage Absolute Virtue at around 3pm EST the following day.

Some three hours later, LimitBreak gets the idea to use the surrounding terrain to their advantage. It seems that there was a certain point in the battlefield where the BLMs could safely stand and nuke Absolute Virtue without retaliation. For some unknown reason, AV's auto-regen seemed to have disappeared, if not, then knocked down a few notches, allowing LimitBreak to actually get some damage in. Camdon posted a screenshot of Absolute Virtue at 88% HP, the lowest anybody's ever gotten AV's health down to. By attacking AV from the other end of the cliff from which they held AV and rotating in Black Mages to cover for those out of mana, they essentially held AV in one spot, trying to get to the Black Mages.

At 60% HP, things were made more interesting when Absolute Virtue put on some "power bracelets", which is when some believe he switches into a new mode, something like how the Ix'MNK's attack speed increases when it puts on its own bracelets.

Along with the new mode, AV regained all its 2-hr abilities. All was well, until AV's health reached 51%. A Manafont and Chainspell later resulted in a Comet/Meteor that took out the damage force, and for a while, AV's health hovered in between 52% and 53%.

Then came what is now quite possibly the most famous Benediction to date. ; ;

The Benediction did more than just set everything back to square one and make people /cry. For one, Dia II and Bio II as DoT spells no longer seemed to stick as well. Using similar tactics, LimitBreak was able to whittle down AV down to 87% health, whereby a second Benediction came their way. To be more precise,

AV at 87%

Invincible > Benediction > Mijin Gakure

40 people dead... /sigh

LimitBreak's next attempt at taking down Absolute Virtue got him all the way down to 72%. Now, up to this point, Absolute Virtue seemed rooted at a particular spot where, for some reason, he wasn't 2-hr'ing again. Ladyeve, who was in charge of the BLM team made a note of this, and instructed her team not to let AV move, since she had previously observed Meteor go off a few times when AV moved.

Like a prophet, Absolute Virtue just shifted out of position. One Meteor later, the team was wiped again, AV went unclaimed, and regenerated its health back up to 100%. >_< I'll shamelessly steal one of Banderdragon's pictures of the fight: >_<

One observation during this time though, is that Absolute Virtue does have certain patterns when it comes to its behaviour and 2-hr abilities. For example, Manafont and Chainspell seem to go together, Meikyo Shisui and Eagle Eye Shot is another. Soul Voice generally results in a lot of Maiden's Virelai, and Invincible generally preceeds a Benediction. That latter part was important, since it now gave some hope to preventing a Benediction from wiping out some more hours of hard work. A BLM's or DRK's Stun would just get resisted, so people tried hitting it with Stunning weaponskills like Flat Blade instead, but unfortunately, the person missed. >_< The fighting continued, until eventually, it was time to throw in the towel and say you'll get 'im next time.

10:15:06 PM PST, Absolute Virtue has despawned. LimitBreak fought AV for almost 30 hours, bringing him down to 51% at the best. I truly, truly believe that this mob was not meant to be killed by anyone at this point in the game- it is an absolutely insane mob.

Thanks for all the support, but we're all very tired as you can imagine, I'll try to answer questions, maybe tomorrow or something of the sort, but wow that takes it out of you.

All in all, Absolute Virtue Benediction'ed a total of seven times during the some 30-hour battle.

Major props go to LimitBreak for their tremendous effort in taking on Absolute Virtue. While granted, they did not manage to defeat Absolute Virtue in the end, they made some major breakthroughs in the fight, and hopefully what new knowledge that has been uncovered tonight will aid in Absolute Virtue's eventual defeat. The question then is who will be the first to actually take Absolute Virtue's (figurative) head.

One thing I noted over on the forums was that some people appeared pretty upset that LimitBreak's ability to damage Absolute Virtue rested upon the abovementioned "glitch" whereby the BLMs could hold AV in place safely, without any 2-hrs or insanity from AV to stop them. Others just didn't like the fact that it was the terrain that allowed LimitBreak to get this far.

To that, I have to say nonsense. Use of terrain is a very relevant aspect of a fight, and has been used in some other high-level fights, like against the Dynamis Lord, where the cliff edge acts as a shield from which the BLMs can nuke the Dynamis Lord, safely covered from Oblivion Smash. I have no problems with LimitBreak's use of the cliff in their battle against Absolute Virtue, although should AV's occasional passiveness be attributed to a glitch in the programming, well, I guess it's a good thing they stumbled across it.

Anyway, the forum posts for those who like to see references:

Order of the Blue Gartr post

Killing Ifrit post

And once again, {Congratulations!} and {Good job!} to LimitBreak for their efforts!

10 March, 2006

Flames for the Dead

Here goes.

Otherwise better known as "The Snoll Tzar fight".


We (or at least myself) had been waiting in nervous anticipation to do this fight for a long time, and we knew that it would be one of the most challenging obstacles we would face through the CoP missions. On the plus side, this also meant that the TrueRune CoP static (ver 2.0) had finally caught upto Tumble, who had already completed all of the Three Paths (except Snoll Tzar) before his old CoP static ditched him in favour of a more damage-oriented job.

And so, it was our turn. TrueRune, vs. Snoll Tzar.

For thse who are unfamiliar with the fight, here's a quick recap. It's a Level 60-cap fight in Bearclaw Pinnacle (by the Uleguerand Range) that pits you against one Snoll Tzar NM. What makes this battle so hard is that you have a grand total of 45 seconds (yes, that's seconds) to defeat him from when the Snoll Tzar aggros. Failure to do so results in Hypothermal Meltdown, killing everyone, and ejecting you from the BC. No, Hypothermal Meltdown can't be Stunned, the Snoll Tzar can't be slept, and you are ejected even if you have Reraise on.

In addition to that, the Snoll Tzar has about 8-9 thousand hit points. As Eracia mentioned over on her CoP guide (which is probably the most useful CoP resource out there, btw ^^)
Go over that one for a moment. 9000 damage. 45 seconds. Yeah. It’s not possible.
Thankfully, you can use up to three Shu'Meyu Salts, each of which effectively "buys" you an extra fifteen seconds for you to kill the Snoll Tzar, for a total of about a minute and a half to kill him, which is much more reasonable. The problem is that the Salts themselves each take fifteen seconds to use, so you're essentially trading fifteen seconds of one party member's contribution for fifteen seconds of everybody else's. Be careful not to overlap your salts though- a salt just makes it such that the next fifteen seconds do not add to the Snoll's Meltdown timer, so if you use the next Salt too early, you've lost the overlapped time.

If that wasn't enough, many people forget that the Snoll Tzar actually does a pretty damn good job at actually killing you in the limited time available, with very high damaging spells, not to mention a very nasty AoE Frost effect that eats away 32hp a tick! In addition to that, as time wears on, the Snoll Tzar grows bigger in size, and the strength of his attacks also similarly increases.

Just to reiterate, this is a party that calls for a very high output of damage. Our party setup?


Wait, is that a WHM in our party?? PLD?? THF??! (Yeah...we're doomed. -_-) Then again, there's a very nice video out there of the Spoondaggers LS's (Gilgamesh) successful Snoll Tzar fight with a DRAGOON in the party, so anything's possible! XD

Although thinking about it, I think they still have a better party setup (BLM RDM RNG THF DRG PLD) than we do. >_<

My plan was to Chainspell away a whole bunch of Fire IIs in rapid succession, and in doing so, I needed to have plenty of mana at my disposal to reap the most benefit out of the Chainspell. My original mana would be one pass through, Convert effectively gives me a second. From then on, a combination of a Vile Elixir +1 and a Pro Ether would give me a third "bar" of mana. I wasn't too happy with the 400k price tag of these though. >_<

Once at Bearclaw Pinnacle, we sat down and talked stategy for a while, waiting for Firesday to come around. We all knew that the Snoll Tzar was weak to Fire, but my main problems were our available skillchains (SAM + THF can't make a Fire-based skillchain other than SATA Cyclone -_-), and hate management. For the former, our usual skillchain is the cookie cutter Tachi: Enpi → Dancing Edge for Distortion. Unfortunately, the Snoll Tzar is Ice-based, so I had my doubts on Distortion.

Secondly, I was very sure I would get hate in the middle of Chainspell nuking, and while Seraph was confident in his ability to hold hate (especially with Invincible), I was skeptical, since I had easily pulled hate off Invincibles before (if I really wanted to).

In the end, we decided Chummy and I would focus on just Fire-based spells (Fire II and Inferno), while Akanea had this whole chain of Tachi: Enpis going along that would result in several Distortion skillchains.

We also confirmed our Salt order. We decided Tumble would go first, since with everyone at near full HP, a WHM didn't have much to do, followed by Chummy who would be waiting on his Blood Pact timer to reset. Seraph would take the final Salt, if we ever got that far. >_<

Firesday rolled around, and after making some last-minute checks, we entered. This was it!

To summarize, the latter end of the battle looked something like this:

Yeah, we lost that one. >_<

Well, to be blunt, we made quite a number of errors that just compounded that resulted in our loss. For starters, I accidentally hit my Chainspell macro instead of my Dia II macro, forcing me to go on a Fire II rampage that, while doing a whole lot of damage, literally tore hate off Seraph's Invincible (like I said it would -_-) and I found myself face down on the icy floor before the first minute was up. Heck, I didn't even get to Convert! >_<

Part of that lack of hate management was also due to the decision to SATA Dancing Edge onto Akanea, for goodness knows what reason, which while initially making sense since Seraph would take hate from the beginning, thus turning the Snoll Tzar, did little in helping Seraph keep hate for when I went berserk.

On the melee side, Tachi: Enpis were also really, really weak damage against the Snoll Tzar, and the resulting Distortion skillchain only resulted in an extra bonus 19 damage or so. -_- Finally, the Snoll Tzar had higher evasion that any of us thought, and a lot of Akanea's and Saoirse's regular attacks were whiffing on the Tzar.

At least we managed to get the Snoll Tzar down to 30% when we wiped, which I hear is pretty decent for a first attempt! XD

I have to admit though, that Snoll Tzar was HUGE by the time it had killed all of us. XD

So with that in mind, here are some lessons to learn for the next attempt:

1) I should probably nuke from the start, but not go into Chainspell mode until say, 40 seconds into the fight itself (assuming we use all 3 Salts). This gives Seraph more time to try and secure hate, ready for the big showdown.

2) Time actually isn't all that bad a crimp. Hate management was by far our bigger problem.

3) THFs actually have their use here, landing a good Trick Attack'ed weapon skill on the Paladin, to help him hold hate for when the party goes into {Full attack!} mode.

4) Tachi: Enpi is a no-no.

I guess being able to look back at the logs to see how to further maximize your damage potential is a very good thing in this fight, and such analysis would pay off on the latter battles when we are under high time constraints. Hopefully with these tweaks, victory will be ours the next time around, but first, we need to get some more salt. -_-

On the bright side, I still have my Vile Elixir +1 and my Pro Ether! XD

Ally to Tenzen and Louverance

In continuation from where we left off, all that was needed to do to complete the Three Paths was to finish off the Disaster Idol, the Moblin BCNM fight, and finally, the dreaded Snoll Tzar fight. We weren't actually planning on actually going through with CoP today, but after some last minute arrangements and messaging, we got together, and set out to get us some more missions done!

The first order of the day was the Disaster Idol. I have to admit, for a full party in their 70s, this thing was a piece of cake, although I can see how a party in their 60s might have some trouble.

Some notes about the Disaster Idol is that firstly, it does not (at least, not to my knowledge) Meltdown, so you're saved from that, at least.

Secondly, its attacks and weaknesses are dependant on the day which you fight it on. For example, we fought the Disaster Idol on Windsday, so all its spells were Wind-based, and thus, it was weak to Ice. (Personally, I had never seen a Doll mob cast Blink before...^^)

If you want an easy fight, I hear Lightsday makes him the easiest, for obvious reasons, although I'd imagine the multitude of Cure spells could get rather annoying. As a high-level party though, we didn't really care, and took out the Idol with little trouble. With new knowledge that lay in the depths of Delkfutt's Tower, Tenzen had this burning desire to return to Pso'Xja (not again...), and so, off we went. >_<

The last part of Tenzen's path involved a return to Pso'Xja, in the tower closest to the Batallia Downs zone, and is thankfully, Level 60 cap! (It was also now that I noticed that all my RDM71 gear, with the exception of my Torques, are level 60 and below. XD)

Unlike the 50-cap section, this part is easy enough that you can solo. Your aim is the same, to get to an elevator in the center of the room. There are no mobs to fight (well, if you can avoid it), just another sixteen rooms arranged in four groups of 2x2 surround the elevator which you need to get to. However, it is a maze with tricky, one-way doors, and gets a little bit confusing if you don't know where you're going. Fortunately, the directions are simple if you know it:

1) Follow your right-hand wall, until you enter a room from the south, facing north. (This means you've almost completed the whole circuit around the elevator).
2) Go west, drop down the hole there.
3) Keep going, turn right at the first room, and walk up the stairs.

I found that it's a little difficult to "keep going straight" if you're manually moving forward, since the camera angle snaps back at you when you pass through a one-way door, so unless you paid attention, you'll be in a room with more than one exit, and you don't remember which side you entered from (since it's one-way). Auto-running through the doors makes things easier though, since it preserves direction. ^^

Once you're at the elevator, the same deal awaits. Sneak and Invis up at the top of the elevator, before going down. Then, you'll find another Avatar Gate, where this time, Fenrir himself has something to say to you and Tenzen.

And that's Tenzen's path complete!

Next, onto Louverance's path, and the Moblin BC fight. Simply get your required cutscenes, and head down to Mine Shaft #2716 by any means possible, by either flipping switches and ghosting around Newton Movalpolos, farming Snow Lilies, or my preferred way, cold hard cash to Twikblix, who'll then teleport you straight to the Mine Shaft entrance. Convenient, no?

As the picture shows, this fight pits you against four Moblins (RDM, BLM, WHM, and THF) and one Bugbear, who can somehow use both Mighty Strikes and Counterattack. All of them are immune to Sleep, so people need to kite everything around. It's a little chaotic, but really quite fun.

The problem with kiting the Bugbear is that, at least for the first part of the battle, the Moblins can command the Bugbear to assist whoever made the call. From then on, the Bugbear will attack only the person who has the Moblin's hate, and try as we could, we couldn't get the Bugbear to change its mind.

So we just killed the Moblin anyway and went on with things.

The original plan was to kill the BLM Moblin first (Chekochuk), and then take out the WHM, RDM, and THF in that order, but that all went to hell, and we just changed focus to whichever Moblin was closest, since the others were being kited.

Initially, the plan was to stick Chummy (SMN) onto one Moblin, myself (RDM) on the Bugbear (and I later switched to a Moblin), Seraph (PLD) on another Moblin, and then have Akanea (SAM) and Saoirse (THF) take out the BLM quickly with a Distortion skillchain. Tumble (being WHM), would Cure from the center of the room.

It's a fun fight, although it's too bad that the Moblins were really quite weak. Their mid-battle comments were really quite funny, especially after one of them apparently blew themselves up with a backfired Bomb of some sort, that got the other Moblins yelling, "No! Bombs, BAD!"

And that's Louverance's path completed! Thankfully, it's been all rather easy until now. We warped back to Jeuno, and started prepping for the one last big fight ahead that, now, was all that separated us from completing all three Forks.

Yep. Snoll Tzar.

08 March, 2006

Three Paths

Reporting in on the Mithra BC:

I have to admit, we came into the Boneyand Gully, confident at beating this BC. A Summoner is very useful for this fight, and to summarize my last post, well, we had two. Chummy and I bothed Astral Flow'ed out a total of three Tidal Waves to defeat all three kitties, while Seraph Invincible'd to hang on for dear life while waiting on our Blood Pact timers to reset, and that was that.

All we needed to do was make sure all three Mithra were gathered together for Astral Flow, but that wasn't all too difficult. I guess SMN SMN PLD was really useful though- Seraph swears he would've gotten his rear end handed to him on a silver platter had it not been for Invincible, so I can't really argue about that. ^^

The next step was to trek through Pso'Xja a grand total of two times. Fortunately, one of them is easy. Unfortunately, the other one is a complete pain to do. Guess which one we were doing first. >_<

The tedious leg of this mission is the 50-cap part, involving the easternmost tower, the last on your way to Fei'Yin. It involves navigating through sixteen doors, in a circle around Pso'Xja to get to one elevator that would take you down to the Avatar Gate, where...you'll just have to complete the mission for yourself to find out. ^^

What makes the mission such a pain is that each of the sixteen doors is booby trapped, and clicking on the door spawns an NM Doll named a "Gargoyle" (even though it looks nothing like one), which is not only a pain to kill, but also grows in difficulty as you progress further down the line. So while the first door's Gargoyle was a piece of cake (relatively speaking), the last door's took forever to kill in what felt more like an endurance test than anything.

Throw in a bunch of intervening aggressive mobs, like Tonberry and Hecteyes to make things more interesting, as well as some Pots (magic aggro!) to spice things up, and we were starting to get quite drained as we approached the tenth door or so. Thankfully, the difficulty of the mobs, and number per room didn't really seem to differ, so the only real trial was getting past the progressively-harder Gargoyles before the mobs respawned.

Thankfully, a THF can actually pick the traps with a Thief's Tool! However, don't count on it- we still had to fight pretty much all of the later Gargoyles, although getting three or four free passes in the early stages was a nice time-saver, to say the least.

One word of warning though- killing the Gargoyle opens the door for a limited amount of time. Should the door close on somebody, do not try clicking on the door to open it from the other side! Doing so will warp you to the beginning of the whole ordeal, and earn you much /slapping from your party members who would sooner ditch you than fight all the way through again. ^^

All this brings you up to one elevator, conveniently placed in the center of the room which you just circled,

Sneak and Invis up before descending on the elevator, and then right at the bottom, among a few aggro mobs, lies the Avatar Gate which you spent so much trouble (about 2-3 hours worth -_-) to get to:

Unfortunately, by the time we completed this part, we were so tired out, we decided to call it a night. Thankfully, the rest of Tenzen's leg is pretty easy, so more to come...^^

06 March, 2006

(Hedgehog) Bombs Away!

Thus summarizes the last week or so of my time spent in Vana'diel.

Real life has been keeping me busy as of late, and as such, there haven't been very many things for me to write about recently. The above screenshot was taken from a Brothers ENM run, duo'ed with Sollanon, and only just because he and I had already gotten the Key Item required to enter the ENM previously. (See, I knew I got it early for a reason!)

Suffice it to say, it's pretty easy with two Black Mages, and the drops we got were stunning to say the least. Hey, I can't complain with 4m gil made in about half an hour's easy work, can I?

TrueRune has also finally gotten its act together and resumed work on the CoP missions. There were some rearrangements from before, and the static now consists of myself, Chummy (SMN, SAM), Akanea (DRG, SAM), Saoirse (BLM, THF), Seraph (PLD) and Tumble (WHM). We actually just completed the Mithra Trackers BC fight in what was probably one of the easiest fights we've done thus far, partially because both Chummy and I had the capacity to bring our SMN50s to the playing field.

Two simultaneous Tidal Waves from Levaithan, followed by an Elemental Seal-powered Sleepga from Saoirse, followed by another round of Tidal Waves finished the BCNM so quickly, I forgot to take a screenshot. >_< Oh well.

Because of my recent lack of time, a lot of my focus this past week have been on skilling up my Goldsmithing, which is going along pretty smoothly. I've hit Goldsmithing 78, and am gearing up for the final push to Goldsmithing 80! ^^ On the leveling side, I managed to convince Sakurato and Xmode to bring me along on a merit point party up in sky, on Decorative Weapons, where, despite the five level gap, I still got a pretty decent chunk of xp, and a couple parties later, dinged RDM71 after I decided that my grand dream of melee'ing Maat at RDM70 wasn't worth the trouble. Ah well, I'll get him someday.

In any case, we're gearing up for the first leg of Tenzen's path now, so time permitting, I'll be writing about that soon, too!