December 29, 2009

What the hell is a skillchain?

I'm no veteran when it comes to playing FFXI. As a matter of fact, I'm far from it. Sure, I've seen my fair share of things, but not nearly as much as some of the long time players. Several strategies of the old days have been replaced by newer and more effective methods. Fights that used to take careful planning and timing are now "zerged" (think Blitzkrieg) and several of the jobs that were once highly desired have now been relegated to an endgame only status.

One of these strategies is the use of a Skillchain and if you just read that link, you might be a bit confused by it. Yeah, it's complex at first glance. For the most part, this technique is hardly ever used now. Most times, the formation of a skillchain during an event or party is accidental. One of those deals where you see it, say "oooh", and then move on. Unless you are doing a latent break, it's safe to say that no one cares about a skillchain.

I don't get this. A skillchain is free damage. Yes, free damage. All you have to do is plan it out. Yes, it requires thought, planning, focus, and communication. As a matter of fact, it requires near constant communication. Now you might wonder why the hell you'd want to put forth all that effort during a party. Two reasons for this:

1. Exp parties are boring as hell, and it's not uncommon for a member to fall asleep during one.
2. Faster kills = greater exp over time.

Let's pretend that we don't give a damn about our fellow players and care less if they fall asleep because we can just boot them and get a replacement. Of course we'd never do that, but we're in "pretend mode" right now. Look at statement #2. Faster kills; greater exp. Do I really need to break that down for anyone?

Now, I understand when people don't want to put out a lot of effort for a short term event. Sure, if you're zerging an enemy, just go in and do it. No need for an immaculate plan with every action mapped out. Just do it, be done, and go to your home point. Exp parties are different though. They are designed to take time. Parties are usually 90 minutes to several hours, so why not make them as effective as possible?

An example of this happened yesterday. I setup a party and went to the Mire yesterday. The party was going to be synced down to 67. Anyone that's ever been there knows that going in at 67 means great exp, but slow kills (unless you have the perfect setup, perfectly geared players, proper star and moon alignment, etc.). Imps are no joke at that level, and are more than capable of wiping a party with ease. I suck at making parties, but I think we had a fairly decent setup. PLD, RDM, WHM, DRG, SAM, THF. Yes, it's heavy on the healing.

We got started and things were going well. We weren't chain pulling yet, but things were fine as far as I was concerned. Now, despite my reluctance to being a mage, I was and always will be a mage at heart. While Bhin served as my mentor during that time, the concept of skillchains and magic bursts were drilled in my head. It's at the point where I can basically quote off a list of applicable skillchains based on a glance of party members' jobs. It's pretty sad, I know.

Eventually, I asked if we could make some skillchains. Yeah, it suddenly meant that everyone had to pay attention. On the bright side, Imps have a nasty tendency to lock your abilities, so you can't weaponskill as freely as you'd like to. In a way, this forces you to pay attention because you need to get those weaponskills off as quickly as possible. So since we've already got to wait with using them, why not make their impact much more devastating?

We experimented for a bit and eventually got our timing down. Before you know it, our little camp became a disco show of Fragmentation and Light skillchains. Kills started going much faster, and though we were at the lowest recommended level for that area, we were killing like we were several levels higher. Exp was great and everyone leveled at least once. Considering some of us were in the 70's, I think we did damned good for everyone in the party to level for the time that we were there.

Now this doesn't mean that I think every single time I go in a party that we need to formulate a skillchain plan, but it does show that the "old ways" aren't quite as antiquated as some might think.

Not to mention, your mages will feel a bit more helpful instead of bored while they spam cure spells. You'd be amazed to see how happy a WHM can be when they actually have a reason to cast Banish or Holy on something.


james said...

You learned just fine hun! It really boggles my mind how stubborn some people are against doing them thanks?