Warning: Very long post!
Thus far, I've enjoyed BLU quite a bit, and someday, I worry that my THF subjob will eventually get left behind in the dust as I focus more and more on BLU itself.
I like the solo playstyle thus far- I haven't really had any pressing need to go xp, given that much of the xp I get comes from, well, actually trying to get my spells in the first place, so other than the odd streak here and there, I haven't really thought to myself "hey, y'know, it's time to get a party."
In any case, I leveled up from BLU16 all the way to BLU20 so far. There are several stories to tell, so I'll separate them into their appropriate sections:
Bludgeon is one of the more powerful spells a BLU can use in the earlier levels due to its high damage output. I have to admit, before ToAU, I didn’t really know this mob TP move even existed, probably because nobody fights Cardians on any regular basis (except maybe for the various Windurst missions.)
In any case, after completing the Level 16 set of spells (Sheep Song, Healing Breeze, Helldive) I decided to move on and start working on collecting the Level 18 set of spells (Cursed Sphere, Blastbomb, Bludgeon). Off the three, I felt Bludgeon’s the most important, and so set out to get that one first.
Everybody knows that Cardians are found inside the Horutoto Ruins, but just where inside the Horutoto Ruins are they?
This is probably basic knowledge to anyone from Windurst at least, but the Horutoto Ruins is a series of disconnected areas. There are six entrances throughout the Sarutabaruta region that leads to a part of the Horutoto Ruins, and as you might suspect, none of them are connected to one another from the inside.
After getting Myoha, who was leveling his RDM20 to come help me locate the Cardians, we eventually found it tucked in a section of the Horutoto Ruins leading up to the Windurst 6-1 mission, entered from the Southwest tower of West Sarutabaruta.
The Cardians found in this section of the Horutoto Ruins start at the “Too weak” Two-series, and scale upwards. For me, a BLU16, the Four-series were DC, the Five-series were T, and I stopped looking once I hit the IT Six-series.
The good thing about Cardians is that they have a grand total of two TP moves- Deal Out, and Bludgeon, so actually getting the Cardian to use Bludgeon (so you can learn it) is very easy. The only problem I could think of is that Cardians, being Arcana, aggro to both Sound and Magic, and they link as well. The rooms are a little cramped though, but fortunately, Myoha could pull with Silence (to avoid links due to other mobs pathing into the first mob while it’s casting), so we went by with no links whatsoever.
It only took three Cardians (who Bludgeon’ed) for me to learn it myself. ^^
Then, it was onto the next spell...
Blastbomb was the "Level 18 spell" that worried me the most. Part of that is because, like Dhalmel, Orcish Warmachines have quite a number of various TP moves, although slightly less than a Dhalmel. That wasn't really my main concern though- the problem was just where to find Orcish Warmachines plentiful enough to keep on killing them. It's one thing to have to hope for the correct TP move, it's another thing when there is only one or two copies of the mob around!
Fortunately, I found a spot in Fort Ghelsba that had five Orcish Flamethrowers for me to try and get Blastbomb off.
As a BLU16 though, the Flamethrowers all checked Tough. The problem was that I needed to clear the surrounding area of Orcs which would link with the Flamethrower once I pull. In addition, all the orcs were EP-DC, so I'd still risk aggro, thus needing me to clear the place out before engaging the Flamethrower.
It took a while, and in fact, I dinged BLU17 in the process of clearing all the Orcs out. After I had cleared a section, I'd then rest to full, buff up, and engage the Orcish Flamethrower. I killed a few without successfully learning Blastbomb, and things got dicey once in a while when I'd accidentally get a link on me.
For the record, Orcish Flamethrowers have an 8-minute repop timer.
I died here once, conveniently after my scroll of Reraise wore, so I had to troop all the way back here again. However, since xp wasn't my main priority, I stopped by the Ru'Lude Gardens, and contacted my NPC Fellow, Yufafa, set her to "Healer" mode, and we were off!
Having a helping hand made it easier, to the point where we could venture further into Fort Ghelsba, where I found even more Flamethrowers awaiting. This led to me wandering up and down the following route:
Flamethrowers are marked in red crosses, and I went up and down the darker red path.
Thankfully, after figuring out this path to follow, my Blastbomb was not much longer. ^^
Getting Cursed Sphere:
Cursed Sphere was the last of the "Level 18" spells, and I already had plans on how to get it. The obvious way would be to join a Dunes party and learn it off the Damselflies. As a BLU17, I would be on the upper range of the flies, and sooner or later, I'd learn it.
Unfortunately, that meant actually joining a Valurm Dunes party, which is probably akin to having your eyeballs spooned out by a pack of...nevermind
Anyway, no dunes for me.
Instead, I headed over to the outpost in the Meriphataud Mountains, where there are plenty of Crane Flies around. All the flies here conned Tough to me, which meant I could solo them, and lo and behold, I learnt Cursed Sphere off the very first fly. ^^
On a side note, because I was not yet Level 20, I couldn't ride a chocobo out yet. It had been a very, very long time since I last walked the Sauromugue Champaign. ^^;
Solo leveling & getting Blood Drain:
Since I was in the Meriphataud Mountains as a BLU17 and had all the spells until 20, it was time for me to xp!
Once again, I could’ve xp’ed in the Dunes. But why pull your teeth out when you can solo Worms instead? ^^
Seeing as how I was just in the adjacent zone, I decided to walk down to the Tahrongi Canyon, and from there, hit the Maze of Shakrami. All the Maze Makers still conned Tough to me, and using more or less the same tactic I’ve been doing thus far, I found I could comfortably kill two Worms (getting Chain #1) before having to rest.
Thankfully, nobody else was in the Maze at the time soloing, so I had free reign to all the Maze Makers, and kills were netting me anything between 140xp and 200xp. I tried seeing if I could conserve my mana so that I had enough for Chain #2, which I did once- I killed a third worm for Chain #2, but that left me with exactly 0MP and 4HP with a Rasp on. Not good news. -_-
Eventually, I leveled all the way up to BLU19 here alone in fairly short order. I know solo’ing is sometimes a pain, and I can’t stand leveling up my THF solo, but when everything you fight is T, it kinda feels like a Dunes party anyway. Once I hit BLU19, a few Maze Makers started checking Decent Challenge.
It was time to start thinking about the two Level 20 spells: Blood Drain and Claw Cyclone.
Chances are, the developers over at SE were thinking of somewhere else to get Blood Drain from. Giant Bats use Blood Drain, which pointed at the various Combats flying around the Maze of Shakrami. Most of them conned VT to me, but to my delight, I noticed that a few of them actually conned T!
Of course, that meant that they were “high-T” so I’d go in fully buffed and engage them like I do everything else. I’m pretty sure that Blood Drain isn’t the only TP move the Giant Bats have, but the first one I engaged used it, but I didn’t learn the spell. However, I got it on the second Bat. ^^
After that, I warped back to try and get my last “Level-20 spell”- Claw Cyclone
Getting Claw Cyclone:
I didn’t really bother looking up Tigers when it came to Claw Cyclone- I knew the weakest ones would be in the Jugner Forest, so I just headed straight there myself after bumming a Teleport-Holla off a friend.
You can imagine my dismay when the first Tiger I came across checked as “Incredibly Tough.” -_-
A quick look online also revealed that the Jugner Forest tigers are the weakest in Vana'diel, too. ; ;
Thankfully, the tigers here were like the Combats back in the Maze of Shakrami- I just got unlucky with one on the high end, and I found some Tough Tigers just a little bit further into the Jugner Forest. Thankfully, it only took two Tigers to learn Claw Cyclone- both of them used it. Seeing as how I went /WAR at the time though, looking back, I'm quite glad neither Tiger used Roar- I wouldn't know what I'd do then. >_<
Getting Poison Breath:
I got help from Motoka, a friend of Lostman's- I actually didn't remember her at first, when we played, we were busy farming Sacrarium for Subligars, and since it was a Japanese party, that's how I remembered her.
In any case, I was shouting in Aht Urhgan Whitegate for a Teleport-Dem so I could head down to Gusgen Mines to learn Poison Breath from the Bandersnatches there, and Motoka replied. Only thing is, she replied in English, so I hadn't the foggiest idea who she was. >_<
So then she reminded me, and the ever-recognisable Japanese "^^" gave it away. That at least set some things straight. >_<
Anyway, Myoha and I went down to Gusgen to try and duo Ghouls and Bandersnatches. Theoretically, I thought we'd pwn down here, since both Head Butt and Bludgeon are classified under Blunt damage, which skeletons are weak to. Unfortunately, I underestimated Undead's low HP aggro.
We killed one Ghoul with no problems, but the second Ghoul brought me down to yellow HP. That got the attention of a BLM Ghoul, and an Aeroga later, I died. :(
Fortunately, Motoka came to the rescue again- after I homepointed, I asked if she could give me another teleport. Not only did she give me that, but she also offered to help get me Poison Breath!
We basically ran around the "circuit" on the top floor of Gusgen Mines- there are a number of Bandersnatches along the way, but actually getting them to use Poison Breath was bad enough. Eventually though, they gave in, and I think after about 30 minutes of running around or so, I finally got that spell.
Initially, I was planning on heading down one of my past Carpenter's Landing camps and connin...er, convincing an xp party to level off the flytraps there. Unfortunately, a quick check of the area revealed that the flytraps are slightly higher level than the Diving Beetles and Shriekers which make up the usual xp mobs, so a party there didn't really look very enticing, particularly if people aren't used to combatting Sleepga effects.
As I was looking around for people I could possibly duo with, I noticed another Blue Mage looking for a party. I asked if he had gotten Soporific yet- he hadn't. I then proposed we go and duo flytraps to try and learn the spell. As it turns out, the flytraps in Carpenter's Landing in the area directly connected to Northern San d'Oria were all DC-EM to us, which was just perfect. There weren't too many flytraps, maybe four or so, but on a five-minute repop, there wasn't all that much waiting around to be had.
Unfortunately, Soporific also turned out to be one of those spells that's just a pain to learn. Flytraps don't have that many TP moves, but for some reason, we just could not seem to learn that darn spell. Of course, with two BLUs at it, it would only be a matter of time, in this case, about 45 minutes or so?
The good part about trying to learn Soporific here is that you are also right next to some EP-DC Land Pugils, which brings me onto...
After both of us learnt Soporific, we turned our focus towards trying to get this spell even though at the time, we were only BLU22 and Screwdriver only becomes active at BLU26. Unfortunately, as seems to be the trend, we didn't learn it in the end, despite seeing it a few times amongst whatever Land Pugils we killed.
Thankfully, at least Screwdriver shouldn't be too difficult to get, after all- I could just join a few xp parties that fight Greater Pugils and I would've certainly learnt Screwdriver by the time we were done, right?? :P
Luckily, I was then invited to a 22-24 party. Not knowing where to go because Yuhtunga Jungle was packed, I offered Korroloka Tunnel. I felt 24 was too high for the Greater Pugils in Qufim Island, and the Pugils in Korroloka Tunnel are just one level range higher than their Qufim cousins. Alas, the Pugils did not pop as often as I thought they did in Korroloka. Instead, we were relegated to fighting Clippers, which meant that I wasn't going to learn Screwdriver anytime soon. -_-
Sure enough, by the end of the party, I still hadn't learnt Screwdriver. /sigh
After looking mobs up again, I discovered that the Pugils in the Valkurm Dunes would be just the right level for me to solo- all EM-T mobs. Unfortunately, as practically anyone can tell you, you don't really want to go fight Pugils in the Dunes, particularly if you're solo- there are simply too many parties there to reliably grab a reliable supply for yourself.
Fortunately, there's the other Valkurm Dunes, the one that nobody uses- Buburimu Peninsula.
After chocoboing there from Windurst, I was happy to find that the Pugils were the level range I expected they would be. I brought along my Signal Pearl as well, so Yufafa got to join in the action, and we duo'ed some more Pugils.
The problems of this camp soon became apparent, and now I know more reasons why an xp party really shouldn't go here. Again, for references sake, I camped at the beaches near the Song Runes. At night, Bogys spawn too close to the shore, and I actually had to deal with two Tough mobs simultaneously, something which I'm sure I couldn't have done without Yufafa around. >_<
When it rains, it turns out that a Water Elemental also spawns close to camp, and alas, that one killed me. :(
But not before I learnt Screwdriver from one of the Pugils! /joy
BLU in parties:
As you might've been able to tell, I got a lot of solo and duo xp thus far in my BLU career. I'm not sure why, but BLU lends itself very nicely to soloing, particularly at the lower levels, and I had the pleasure of seeing two BLUs in action, effectively stunlocking whatever mob we were fighting, thanks to the fast cooldown on Head Butt (which even damages the mob!)
So other than silly things like soloing a Chain #4 in Korroloka Tunnel, or duoing Chain #5, I have in fact gotten into a few xp parties over this period of time.
The first was when I was BLU19. It wasn't long before I got an invite to a Japanese Level 19 party, and when the dust settled, we were going off as NIN NIN THF BLU RDM BLM. Originally, our plan was to hit the Diving Beetles down at the Sauromugue Champaign, but we forgot to /check the area before heading out and alas, we soon found that the camp was taken.
So Land Worms it was.
Qufim was packed, as always. Parties with powerlevels were rampant (as seems to be the norm these days -_-) and to be honest, it wasn't terribly fun competing with another party for Land Worm pops around the pond.
It was around now that my router also decided to give up on me, and I kept disconnecting, but not before I reached BLU20, before d/c'ing and not coming back.
One thing that I did notice though, was the flexibility BLU had within a party. Because the core of our frontline was more or less the NIN NIN THF, I came /WHM. However, I needed to tweak my spell set seeing as how I probably wouldn't need Cocoon, Metallic Body or Pollen. Given that I would still be in the frontline though, I opted to set Healing Breeze as an option, just in case. Also, it took me a while to recall that I had subbed /WHM, and so could Barstonra- Worms got slightly easier after that. ^^
The other party I had was the abovementioned Korroloka Tunnel party off Clippers and Greater Pugils. Unfortunately, this party was a letdown of sorts. The setup was pretty decent- NIN THF BLU BLU BLM BRD. However, the majority of the party members were 24, close to 25 while at the time, I was still BLU22.
If there's one thing I've noticed about why BLU solos or duos so well is because against T-low VT mobs, you can land your spells reliably, in particular Head Butt. Against IT mobs, on the other hand, particularly ones where I'm on the low end of the party level range, a lot of my spells had no effect on the mob. In addition, a lot of my spells just didn't do anything- Bludgeon would on more than one occasion deal a grand total of 0 damage on a mob.
Of course, I suppose things will change once subbing THF for Sneak Attack comes into play, although another question I need to ask myself is what exactly am I supposed to do? I keep thinking to take advantage of low cast and recast timers, which basically means "spam spells," but as we know spell spammage gives the mob a lot of TP, I'm wondering if I should just be regular melee, chipping in the occasional Head Butt here and there.
I've never actually played a DD melee role (I focus on tanking as NIN and RNG is well, ranged :P) so I really only have my RNG experience to compare things against when it comes to damage against IT xp mobs. Of course, coming from RNG, I'm not terribly happy about my BLU damage, so I'm wondering if I'm missing something.
The other issue is that a lot of the "excitement" from BLU comes from learning your spells. However, my solo'ing Tough mobs to learn said spells, you also get a decent chunk of your tnl bar filled up doing so. I remember dinging then heading off to try and learn Cursed Sphere and so on- by the time I got all my spells, I was about half way to the next level, which was very nice.
Of course, this mechanic will change later on, simply because I will no longer be able to learn spells solo, and the total tnl between levels is too great to really expect me to have made significant progress on my xp bar while trying to learn a spell (and if it took me that long to learn a spell, I would've probably torn my hair out long before that. -_-)
...In any case, as seems to be the trend, I've burnt myself out on BLU already. Maybe someday I'll get the urge again. ^^;