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

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