June 30, 2010

I fear the Moogles are conspiring against us.

By now, everyone knows about the magian trials, right? I changed my opinion about it when I took up the task of getting the Athame OAT dagger, which I've yet to complete due to a lack of T3 VNM help, but that's a tale for another time.

Now we have our first upgrade to the Magian paths, and it's got me wondering: Is SE using this as a means to keep people playing longer? Truly, these trials are no simple task. Sure, not every trial is a battle of epic proportions for a very obscure upgrade item, but each one can be a challenge in its own right. On top of that, each weapon has a very long path until you reach the end, and we're only at the first extension of presumably four until we've reach the final tier of trials.

Granted, FFXI is not the first game to come out with an upgrade system for existing equipment, but they do seem to be the current innovators of trivially minuscule upgrades on the path to perceived greatness. One could argue that each upgrade is better than the previous, but I'm fairly certain everyone can agree that each one is not particularly useful.

When this first came out, these trials seemed 100% optional. To an extent, they still are. We aren't being forced to do them. At the same time; however, I'm noticing that the new gear they've introduced doesn't seem to outperform the magian weapons. If so, it's not by much, especially considering the potential to upgrade your weapon with the next update. Take the elemental staves, for instance. When you look at the magian versions, you'll notice that none of them completely outdo the level 51 counterpart. They do in certain aspects, such as Magic Damage +4 or Magic Accuracy +4, but not both. Not even a MD+3/MA+3. This means that you'd have to do a damage path and an accuracy path....for each elemental staff you'd want to replace. Even if you don't have to do this for all eight staves, the simple fact that you should need to do this at all is beyond words.

Seriously, it's bad enough to go through these trials to begin with, so can we at least have a mid-range option for these? Something that is moderately useful, and not just a slap in the face until we reach the end of the current path? We're low on inventory space as is and have to resort to extra characters just to hold our stuff, but now you toss this at us too?

Someone once said that SE has a fair amount of contempt for its players. I think they simply hate us, and enjoy watching the hamsters (us) running on their wheel that we call FFXI.

June 29, 2010

FFXI: It's not for newbies anymore.

I was skimming some other blogs when I came across this post. It immediately made me think about how this game is progressing and the direction it's headed. Sure, the latest content is all endgame specific and a lot of people are loving it. However, what about the new people?

Do new people even exist anymore? I don't mean new as in another mule that someone made. I'm talking about a Vana'dielian virgin. Many people think this game is dying and that we shouldn't even worry about new players coming in. Personally, I'm six years late into becoming a resident of Vana'diel. Well, I actually started in 2001, but I played for maybe 10 minutes before dying to something and I didn't come back until 2009. Should I have never signed up since I was immediately behind everyone else from the start?

I don't blame the lack of new people solely on the developers. I think that a good bit of it has to do with the attitudes of existing people too. As a whole, we aren't very welcoming to someone who just arrived. Yes, there are numerous volumes of information on forums on wikipedia for anyone wanting to know just about anything in this game. Yet, I don't think a person can come to love this game and stick around simply by reading a How-To guide on the internet.

FFIV will soon be upon us, but I don't see a mass exodus of players who are going to drop everything and leave FFXI behind. As long as this game is able to run and we keep the servers open, I think that the players should still do their best to not only help the new people that come in, but continue spreading the word about FFXI so that even more people come in. Everyone deserves a chance to love Vana'diel just as we are doing now.

Tranquility Admist Chaos

Now that people have had a chance to sink their teeth into the new content, I figured I'd say a few things. Right now, the main focus of people seems to be getting their jobs to 80. Every place I go to is full of people trying to rush as fast as possible to reach the cap.

Well, I decided against that.

Not against it in the sense that I won't level my jobs, mind you. Just that I am going to take it easy and do things a bit slower than others. When the level cap first hit, I took at look at all of my jobs and their exp into 75. Some are sitting at 1exp tnl, while others such as Summoner are sitting at < 100 into 75. Yeah, I should probably get on that and at least get a 75 buffer.

As I said before, I like every job that I've leveled. At the same time, I just have not been able to bring myself to forcibly take any of them from 75 to 80. Another reason that I'm going to take my time is due to my current status with my jobs. If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know my classes require some work. I'm content with that now, and I know I've got some work ahead of me. So I'm not really going to worry about getting jobs to 80 when they still aren't in top form at 75. FFXI is all about the sets, so this new gear isn't going to do much for me until I have acquired the missing pieces to really reap the benefit this new gear provides.

In addition to that is the burn-out factor. I've watched people start wearing themselves thin due to how much they're leveling recently, and I'd rather not add myself to the list of burnt-out players. On top of that, I have 12 75s to go through. So considering it's roughly (45k*4)*12, that's a lot of experience points to plow through. Of course I'm not obligated to level them to 80, but it would be stupid to leave the majority of them at 75.

Finding camps is another turn-off for me. Our server is already crowded since the merge, and now you have every person with a 75 (read, everyone who plays) searching for a camp. Hell, people are actually camping camps now. I just have no interest in trying to fight to find a place to level. Even the sandbox is ridiculously overcrowded now.

So yeah, I think it's time to just take a deep breath and relax. This content isn't going anywhere anytime soon and making 80 hasn't turned anyone into an all-powerful god of war (lame reference, but meh.). There's plenty of time ahead to level.

I actually find it rather peaceful and comforting to approach things like this. Now it's time for a rant. ^_^

June 24, 2010

Main Love

I was going to make a few posts about the new content and my thoughts about it all. Then I looked around and noticed 50,000 other blog posts doing exactly that. Suffice to say, I'm sure you all have your impressions of the new stuff without me saying the same things you've probably read elsewhere. With that said, it's time to change the subject.

Something I hear a lot with people who have multiple 75s (or now 80s) is the concept of a "main" job class. My understanding of it is very different from what it means in the realm of FFXI. To me, a main class is the one that you are actively using the majority of the time. More than likely, it's your favorite job. In an LS, I always think of a main job as the one that you would prefer to come to events as. As time has progressed, I realize that's far from the case. A main job has nothing to do with what you attend events as. It's simply a designation for what job you want to assign a lotting priority to.

Obviously, main jobs change as time moves on and you get gear, but your favorite would probably stay the same. I've thought about that, and I haven't figured out what my favorite job is. Granted, I have several that I personally enjoy, but I always run into a conflict with them. The individual joy is usually not in line with the need of the linkshell. This isn't their fault, mind you, but I seem to enjoy classes that are looked at as useless or unnecessary. SAM, RNG, and SCH come to mind, with the most recent addition of DNC. Still, I find myself wanting to find that one class that I'm known for. The job everyone seems as my primary class, despite what I show up to events as. The one that you just fall head over heels for and want to do everything to make it as enjoyable for you as possible.

I find myself thinking about this more and more with this level cap increase. While it's only 5 levels and 160k+ exp (!!!), motivating myself to make that climb is becoming more of a challenge than I initially thought.

What about all of you? Which job do you prefer over all else?

June 22, 2010

Impressions & Questions - Day 1

Someone remind me later to do a screenshot post, because I have 30 or so to share.

Before that though, let's talk about this update and my feelings on it. Here we go.

I haven't started WotG yet, and I feel awful. When I first signed on, my goal was to reach Jeuno before it got so congested that people got kicked out of the zone. (ie, the day of the World Merge.) Fortunately, Genkai 6 is ultra simple. Five Kindred Seals is a joke, and three merit points sounds pretty easy when you consider how much time people spend meriting here. So for that, SE, I thank you. They actually made it simple for us to jump right in and get started.

I saw Lisamarie online and in Promyvion-Dem. When I asked what she was doing, she mentioned trying to party. I was capped on DNC exp and figured I'd go hang out with her for a bit. Unfortunately, I don't have a map of Dem and got lost on the first floor. On another embarrassing note, I died on the first floor. Not paying attention to where I was, I ran right into a group of IT++ Wanderers who quickly took me down. Thankfully, I had RR up for some reason. I caught up to the group, but not before taking down a Gorger for a memosphere. Naturally, once I lotted on the item for something that I killed, others started lotting and I lost the item. Meh.

We all started killing some Wanderers for exp, and I was able to not only recap my exp, but take my first step into the new high-level range. Yay 76 Dancer!

After that, we all headed out to Abyssea to see what it will be like. Aesthetically, the zone appears to be in a perpetual sunset. The music is definitely fitting of the zones' appearance. Very calming and eerily soothing. Once you arrive, you are given a 5 minute countdown before you're kicked from the zone. I guess that's to give people who don't have enough of the key item a chance to see the zone and maybe get some items. I'll explain that in a moment.

In the zone, you're not greeted with boundless enemies from the start. You're actually standing in front of decent sized group of NPCs. You have to talk to a Corflux Surveyor, or something like that. You can use your Traverse Stones to gain a Visitant Status, which allows you to stay in Abyssea for 30 minutes per stone. Unfrotunately, you can get one stone every 20 hours. This makes it feel more like an Assault than anything, but I think you may also be allowed to save your stones and get an extended trip. Since this is only day 1, I don't have a lot of information on that yet.

We only saw a handful of enemies, but they are strong and have plenty of new moves. We found two Blue Mage spells, but our BLU in the party was too low to learn them. (Feels weird saying a 75 BLU is too low to learn something.) The enemies we encountered were all fun to fight, and very refreshing to see something new. We found some item chests, but these didn't actually give items. Instead, they gave exp to the party. 200 in one, and 500 in another. That's pretty decent for a random treasure chest drop.

We also ran into an NM rabbit, Mangy-tailed Marvin. I don't know why common sense didn't kick in to leave it alone, but we fought it anyway. It hits damn hard, and it Foot Kicked a PLD from full HP to zero. Whirl Claws was doing 800+, and we had to give up when most of the party was wiped. An interesting thing happened though. I was one of the few in the alliance who didn't die, and somehow it never came back to attack me. I think it went off to chase someone for awhile, but when it returned to where I was, it's color was yellow and it was happily moving along. Guess these NMs have a different system of enmity.

We noticed that not every enemy gave exp either, despite it checking above Too Weak. Again, more information is needed but, after the kill, there is a system message about your body glowing. If you emit a faint glow, no exp is awarded. Stronger "glows" correspond to more exp from the enemy. I'll go back in Abyssea tonight and see what I can find out.

Once that was over, Lisa and some of her party went to sleep, and I went to the sandbox for a bit. While there, I switched to DNC/WAR just to play around. Holy shit, that was fun. I know DNC isn't a notoriously strong job, but being able to bring a Sand Cockatrice to 2-hits before death with a single Darkness Skillchain is something I'm pretty damn proud of. Of course, the sandbox was full of people either leveling, doing Magian stuff, or just being a jackass on the road to "me-firstdom."

While there's still a lot more to explore, I will say that I'm pleased with the direction of things so far. I've been checking BG, and I see a lot of over reactions to the new gear and already calling every piece of gear in existence currently as outclassed and outdated. Nevermind that this new gear is level 80 and not raining from the sky, but you know how people are. Kirin's Osode will be 500k within a month, you heard it here first. It's already 1.2mil on Cerberus, with people saying "Lower the Price ok!"

In other news, this update has brought out a major question for me. What's the future of Epic now? Since my last update about running a linkshell, I haven't really seen a change in how things are being done. Of course we still do events, but with all of this new content, are we going to make a push to get through the existing stuff so we can all move onward, or will this be something we all have to explore for ourselves?

I wonder when the next LS meeting will be. Time to get some questions answered!

June 21, 2010

A Fluffless Future and a Still-Broken Past

Sheesh, it feels like forever since I blogged. Yeah I know, I just posted something a few minutes ago. That was a saved post from last week that I had sitting on my computer and never published.

With this update, it looks like we're in for a lot of changes. Higher level caps, new abilities, looks to shake up the way we've played FFXI for years. That can be a good thing or very bad thing, depending on execution. I see a tons of changes in Wikipedia's future. One thing that I wish for though, isn't necessarily game changing.

It's fluff.

Yeah, the stuff developers put in games that don't really affect gameplay, but make things more enjoyable. I'm dead serious, where the hell are my fluffy updates? The last bit of fluff we got was when Dancers has their thunder stolen with the /danceX emotes. Yeah that's cute and all, but how about a little more? Where's the animation for /slap? Come on, you know that would be hot. Walk right up and bitch-slap someone into a /stagger animation. You could even have /slap1 and /slap2 for an open-handed bitch-slap or backhanded pimp-slap.

Hairstyles. Yes, I said hairstyles. I've been wearing a ponytail for 2 years now, and I want something different. We have costumes that change us into a ghost, pedo-bait, and fleas, but you're telling me we can't get an item that gives us a different hairdo? On that note, some new clothes would be nice. Clothes that could be crafted or bought, mind you. Not some dinner jacket that makes me look like my breasts went on vacation and left me flat-chested.

Now yes, these are fluffy things that would be good in town, but what about gameplay fluff? In particular, I'm referring to character animations with the new weaponskills. Truly, NONE of them look worthwhile, save for Fell Cleave. That shit looks great and makes me want to level Warrior. When I watched the video that was posted, all I could do was sigh. Sure, they might be highly damaging, but then's SE we're talking about. If you've noticed, most people only use the WS right before the quested WS is available. (Tachi: Gekko, Dancing Edge, Penta Thrust, etc.) Still, would it kill SE to give us some awesome character animations during these moves instead of recycling the same crap we've seen for years?

They don't even have to look hard for inspiration. Just go watch any anime with fighting. Over the top and epic moves galore. So what if the WS takes 5 seconds to execute? Make that shit look awesome. Make me excited when I go to kill something. Make me feel like the shit you're adding to my goddamn game matters!! Don't give me a recycled Dragon Kick and call it a Tornado Kick.

/sigh. I just needed to get that out.

On another note, I'm happy about this update...somewhat. However, when is the broken crap going to get fixed? The guide button problem for Xbox users, the black screen of death, beseiged / campaign crashes, NPCs that don't load in town, etc, etc, et-freaking-cetera.

I'm all for adding content and things to keep the game going, but having a stable game is just as important. What do you think?

June 17, 2010


I could either make five separate blog posts, or just jam it all in one. I'm feeling lazy right now, so one it is.

To start, I haven't been blogging much. Way to state the obvious right? Well I've been really busy at work, and on the days where I'm home and actually can sign on, I just haven't been motivated to do anything. I have the subjobs to finish, but I'm already 40+ on them both, so now I can relax and not really give a damn until the next update. It's not as if I really use /war for anything other than personal enjoyment.

As for events, I haven't seen SoV in what feels like forever. Or NBA for that matter. Stuck at work late on Mondays and I always miss Thursdays. If any of you are reading this, I haven't forgotten you all. Just not enough time to make it with work keeping me pinned to my desk. It should settle down soon though.

Regarding Epic, I haven't been there much either. For the same reasons. I've made it to a couple of events, namely a couple of ZNMs (yes, we switched from SCNM for some reason) and Limbus. We did Dynamis-Bubrimu last week, or should I say it did us? The boss NM must have had sneak/invis up, because no one could find it until it was too late. So we timed out. We got 1 Byne Bill during the entire run. Hopefully this week will be better, and please...can we get some damn iceland runs? If I can get enough gil, I'm going to see if I can start sponsoring runs and just keep us in the icelands / CoP zones. Cities suck, period. I think we have enough sets in Limbus to do Omega / Ultima. Now to just hope enough people can make it, myself included.

Other than that, I can't really say much has happened lately. I do have a few rants that I can go on about, but lately I've been trying to hold back on the bitching. Kind of sad that the only thing I really talk is the stuff that bothers me. Granted, that's why I made this blog, but still. Who knows, maybe I should just let it all out. I tend to feel better after a good rant.

June 3, 2010

Got Hacked?

I just saw this on Starcade's blog and thought I'd pass it on. What initially looked like a fake attempt at phishing may very well be real.

Several people have been receiving the following email about a security breach on Square-Enix's side:

Dear valued FINAL FANTASY XI player:

Square Enix is committed to protecting your user information. We have just been alerted to a potential breach of Square Enix’s secure systems from an external source. This may have resulted in the disclosure of a limited number of PlayOnline IDs, passwords and user account data. Please be assured that your credit card data has not been compromised. We are taking this matter very seriously and are conducting a full investigation.

As a precaution we are notifying you of this potential breach and we are resetting your PlayOnline password.

Please contact our Support Center by web chat and obtain a new password that differs from your prior password. Please keep this new password safe and always be on the alert for any “phishing” emails that ask you to disclose personal or financial information.

Support Center

Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 9:00AM to 6:00PM
*This week only, the Support Center will handle calls for this issue on Saturday June 5, and Sunday June 6.
*Please note that due to a large number of calls, it may take a long time until your call is handled. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause.

This e-mail has been sent out for your information only. Please do not reply to this e-mail address.

Again, we apologize for this inconvenience and we thank you for your continued support.

The people over at Bluegartr have been going back and forth with Customer Service, and it seems that several accounts have in fact been reset. I definitely suggest that you check your emails, and if you have customer support before you log on.

Cyclones, Squids, and Cleavage

Just a little update on my monster raising adventures...

First, I'm addicted to Pankration now. Seriously, this stuff is a blast. I should've tried it out back when EP mentioned it so many moons ago, but oh well. I'm in it now and that's what matters.

I'm still working on my little champ, Dark Cyclone. Now that the victory over Yoko's flea has been secured, I've been focusing on ways to make it even better. My eventual goal is to win the matches in the Diablos arena, but that is going to take a bit of time.

My current setup for it is as follows:

Magic Attack +15%
INT +25
Damage Reduction Bonus Lv. 50
Black Mage Scrolls

I'm debating on dropping the Magic Attack and replacing it with some new options, but in the meantime I'm going to get Stoneskin and possibly Phalanx. I want to find a good balance between defense and offense, because it's heavily one-sided at the moment. I've never known elementals to be squishy, but mine unfortunately is. On the plus side, if you don't drop him quickly, he'll whip your ass with a few spells. I'm actually a bit embarrased that my elemental proportionately outdamages me, but're supposed to surpass your teacher right?

Other than Cyclone, I decided to rasie a couple of other fighters. I happened to find another Magic Attack plate from an ZNM I helped with in Caedarva Mire:

Looks pretty badass, right? Well once again, the Pankration version is never as awesome as the real thing. This guy sucks. I actually think I'll remove the Black Magic spell plate I gave him and just let him run on standard Soulflayer abilities. For some reason, he was doing a lot better when he couldn't cast anything new. It might be wise to hold off on introducing new abilities and whatnot until he's able to survive the battles longer. Of course, he's only level 16, so I don't expect him to be super awesome. It's just sad though when a soulflayer loses to a beetle.

The newest intro to my group of fighters comes in the form of Ru'Aun Gardens Groundskeeper, appropriately named Mighty Machine. This one is showing some real promise right from the start. With STR +25 and Double Attack +15%, it hasn't lost a single match yet. I think I'm going to have some fun with this one, but Cyclone is still my favorite. First loves and all that.

Bah, I want to leave work so I can get back to the arena.

EDIT: On an unrelated note, I finally got my Raparee Harness yesterday. ^_^ Now to just get a pair of Enkidu's Leggings + Etoile Tights and Dancer should be set from a haste perspective. Also, after looking at myself in that armor, I realized that it's not the haste that makes it so desirable.

Removing the blindfold

I haven't let out a nice rant in awhile, so I think it's time for one. However, this isn't me bitching about something stupid that SE has done, or about failed event. Nah, this is a tad different. It's a rant about me.

I don't know when it happened but, at some point in my Vana'dielian existence, I started carrying a really negative opinion of myself. I look down on everything I do, and make it seem as if everyone else is so much better than I could ever hope to be. It's actually become rather severe, to the point where I won't even change to some of the jobs I've taken to 75 out of fear that I wouldn't be good enough.

I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment when I started this thought process. Mainly so I could slap the shit out of myself and make me realize how stupid it was. Maybe it was all the forum reading at Bluegartr and FFXIAH. It could've been all the shouts in Whitegate about how "gimp" a person is and that they don't belong. Or me watching LS chat and seeing so many people brag about things they have and how high all their stats are. I don't exactly know. However, what I do know is this: it ends now.

I've literally spent almost my entire time here thinking that I'm not good enough. My blog is evidence of that. I put myself down and say I'm gimp even on my own damn blog. I should be talking myself up about how awesome I am and shit like that. Bragging about all the things I've accomplished and the gear I've picked up. Instead, I mention that I'm happy for getting something, and still call myself gimp.

You might wonder why I'm even going on about this. It's pretty simple. I got invited to a Salvage run tonight. That's not something phenomenal on its own, but what happened inside is what opened my eyes. Prior to entry, when people were getting jobs assigned, I assumed I'd be the backup RDM. Sit at the backline and just help the real players do their thing. After all, it's Salvage. This is where the elitist live. The best of the best, the cream of the crop. The best gear in the game can only be obtained here.

Surprisingly, I was asked to come as a Samurai. The only Samurai.

Needless to say, I was scared as hell. I just knew I was going to be the weak link. Something I would do in there would cause the entire run to fail. We wouldn't be able to kill enemies fast enough, or I wouldn't be able to survive, or any of a thousand other reasons in my head that made me think it was a bad idea. We got our group together and went inside. I was nervous that I'd lot the wrong cells, so I grabbed my weapon cell and passed everything else.

At that moment, I was making those negative thoughts a reality. By giving all of the cells to everyone else, I was basically ensuring that I would do poorly. A few minutes later, I pulled my head out of my ass and started lotting. I'm a Sam and it was my job to kill shit. That's exactly what I did. You know what else? I did a damn good job too.

That's been my problem all this time. I'm the reason that I haven't been as good as I could be. I am forever holding myself back, thinking that if I really put forth the effort to improve, I'm going to fail and be the screw up that I think everyone expects me to be. I don't go to merit parties for that very reason. Thinking that I won't have enough MP to keep everyone alive, or that I won't do enough damage as DD and wind up being laughed at on a forum somewhere.

That's just stupid. I have no reason to think that way. I've been taught by some downright fantastic people. Bhinasha, Yoko, Davik, Miliani, EP, Dizzmal, Cal, Jeffil, Brim, Quig, Saren...the list is huge. All this negative bullshit I carry around is a slap in the face to each one of them and completely negates all the things they've done for me.

The point of all this is pretty simple. No more of this "Jaci is gimp" shit. I'm not going to look down on myself for not having what everyone else has. What I have is pretty damn good. Is it the "best" available? Maybe not, but I don't care anymore. I'll get the best in time, and if I don't, then I'll just be the best I can be with what I have.

I have twelve level 75 jobs, and I'm good with each and every one of them. I wish it didn't take me so long to realize that.

Oh, and for those of you who helped feed this negativity that I've been carrying for so long: piss off. I don't need your approval to know that I'm a good player. All I had to do was take off that blindfold, and I can see just how good I really am.

June 2, 2010

Accept the Inevitable

Well, it's June. The time is upon us.

Time to find out if Scholars will completely overthrow White Mages. Will Black Mages now have more MP via Convert? Will White Mage become the ultimate taxi-service with regular Teleport, Recall, AND Warp 2? What awaits us in the Walk of Echoes? Are we finally going to see an end to the CoP shouts in Whitegate?

So many questions that need to be answered and fears that should be laid to rest. The truth is, none of know what's about to happen. It's all speculation, except for the vague updates that SE has been feeding to us. All we can do is hope for the best.

In the meantime, it's time for everyone to start leveling those subjobs if you haven't already. I'm not even going to bother trying to find an East Ronfaure [S] party. I imagine that place will be jam-packed day in and day out for the next month or so. Thankfully, I only have two classes to level. Unfortunately, they are two that I really don't want to touch.

Well, Warrior isn't so bad. My only issue is that I'm one of those people who used an axe during my leveling, so I'd probably get funny looks for not using a great axe. I suppose I could always just use FoV and solo my way to 40. Not to mention, I had a weird dream not long ago about this job. I was running around with a great axe, doing Steel Cyclone to various enemies. Why I was dreaming of a job I rarely use is beyond me.

The job I truly want to avoid is Ninja. I don't dislike the job as much as Dark Knight, but I still don't want to level. At first, I was pretty gung-ho about it after I saw this video awhile back. I had even intended to level past 37 and go all the way to 75. Unfortunately, I remember taking a trip to the auction house to buy tools. When I saw the insane price of things such as Kurayami, Hojo, and various other items, I said screw Ninja and left things as they were.

So, if I plan to use a DD job ever again, it looks like I'm going to have to buy those tools after all and get to leveling. Damn you and your level increase, Square-Enix. Damn you to hell.

June 1, 2010

Unleashing the Monster

Curiosity is a dangerous thing. Very dangerous. At the same time, it can lead to a lot of fun. Thankfully, fun is exactly what my curiosity brought me this weekend. Story time!

I've been getting into ZNMs lately, and it's pretty interesting so far. For now, I've just been collecting zeni points and helping out with the fights, but it's something new to keep me occupied. Sanraku is a royal pain in the ass with his enemy of choice for pictures, but I guess the rewards at the end of the journey are worth it. Maybe.

Anyway, while getting points with Davik last week, we had a conversation about another purpose for these pictures. Pankration, FFXI's version of Pokemon. Now I'll be honest here: I am not a fan of Pokemon. Not in the least bit. I only know the "I choose you!" phrase because I once had a co-worker run around the office while shouting it whenever she spent hundreds of dollars on a rare card for her kid.

He told me that he had done Pankration for a bit, and thought it was neat. Naturally, I was opposed to the idea, but eventually figured I'd at least give it a shot. Hell, I had nothing else going on other than leveling a new job. Not only that, but winning Pankration gives you Jettons, and I was at 2. Spending Imperial Standing for gold pieces gets costly after awhile.

Just so happened that Sanraku decided to change his tastes to elementals while Davik and I were farming points from Marids. We weren't pleased. So of to Ru'Aun Gardens we go. On the way there, we found a Dark Elemental. Of all the elementals to fight, I think these are the worst. Sleep doesn't stick reliably, they spam Sleepga II on you, and they are a general annoyance to anyone who aggros them.

Sounds like the perfect candidate for a fighter.

We fought it for a bit and got the HP down, then the fun began. I was a Bard, so I had Lullaby on my side for sleeping. Unfortunately, the duration for Lullaby is almost exactly as long as the recast on the Soultrapper 2000 camera. Anyone ever play Fatal Frame, by the way? That's what this camera reminds me of.

We manged to get a couple of pictures in before this thing became a serious problem. Now to figure out how this Pankration crap works. I checked wiki for half a second before I saw the immense amount of information regarding this "game." I said to hell with it and went to my Mog House.

Then curiosity got me. I went to the Colosseum and figured out how to create my fighter. Not as complicated as I thought. After getting my Official Soul Reflector, I registered my Pit Monster for its first match. Two seconds later, it lost its first match. The elemental that nearly kicked my ass a short while before got beat down by a Treant Bulb. I went back to the registration counter and tried again. Another beatdown. Now I'm annoyed.

I kept trying for about 10 matches when I finally threw in the towel. I went to the main counter and started reading all of the information they had to give. I also found out that I didn't have to call my little elemental "Pit Monster" anymore, which was a huge relief for me. After awhile, I realized that I could use the same soul plates that I had been collecting to add skills to my fighter, and not just use them for creating one. So now I'm back in action.

A few additions later and I sent "Celestial Darkness" into the pit. Fail. Things just weren't looking so good for me. Meanwhile, this Taru comes in with an elemental of his own and dominates the arena. A dark elemental casting Thundaga?? What the hell, they don't do that when we're normally fighting. My curiosity has now been piqued. I went to wiki and started reading about the Feral Skills and anything else that could help improve my chances.

I grab my camera with some blank plates and go to work. Not only do I want to improve my "elly", but I have to prove that I can figure this out. A little while later, I come back with Magic Attack, Defense Bonus, and several other plates to add a some spice to my fighter.

Dommi saw me online and decided to come help and hang out as well. I don't know if it was showing off for her or something else, but suddenly my elemental stopped dragging ass and started kicking some instead. Three straight wins and 100 Jettons each! As you can tell, I was excited...and hooked. I stayed in the pit and continued training, only leaving to go to LS events.

Hour after hour, I trained my little elly. I learned about the behaviors and various attack patterns, as well as how to boost it's strength even more. I still ran into several obstacles, but we stayed at it. Working in the pit became more important that going out to level jobs or Nyzul Isle shouts. I still lost more than I won, but I was determined to see this through.

Around level 12 (thought I was higher after all that, huh?), Yoko comes online and mentions that she toyed with Pankration too. Cool. She has Chigoe and Diremite and asked if I wanted to fight. This would be a nice test to see how I did against an actual player. She failed to mention until after the fight that her flea was level 20. That lit the fires within, let me tell you.

Back to wiki I went, and with new determination. My sights were set on kicking that little flea's ass. We trained and trained, and I gave it a new name. The original just didn't sound right, but then I remembered a name of a spell from my time in Istaria. A destructive force of nature that would wreak havoc every time it was cast: Dark Cyclone. Now that sounds more like it.

I had to build Cyclone up to beat that flea. I went out everywhere to get skills. Ro'Maeve, Caedarva Mire, you name it, I went there. I took pictures of every enemy I fought, even snapping shots of other ZNMs and the sky gods during battle. I'm telling you, my little elly was going to beat that damned flea.

The next day, Yoko comes online and asks if I'm ready. I welcomed the challenge, and was ready to see what Cyclone could do. The match starts, and my little guy moves into position.

This was it. Time to see if all that training paid off. He had done fairly well against several enemies in the pit, and we got some massive leveling in. I had no idea if Yoko had done more training or not, and I wasn't taking any chances. Apparently, neither was Cyclone. One Aeroga cast and the match was done. The picture says it all.

I admit, it felt pretty damned good. Not only because I won, but because I literally could see the differences in my fighter since I started. When it's health gets low, it goes on the defensive and recovers. When enemies attempt certain moves, it stuns, sleeps, or gets the hell out of the way. Sometimes I am truly amazed at the intelligence these pankration enemies have. I imagine if they fought this way outside, we would have one hell of a hard fight on our hands.

On top of it all, there is a feeling of pride and accomplishment with this. If your fighter sucks, it's because you did it wrong. But that's ok, because you can change things at any time. You can always take a fighter and retrain or add different skills. It's truly up to you, and when you see those victories, you know it wasn't some random roll of the dice. You made that happen. You took a monster with a blank slate and created a champion.

In a way, Pankration makes me very curious about Blue Mage. There I go again. =/