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. =/


Evilpaul said...

When you make a Soul Plate into a Reflector there's a chance it'll have some innate Feral Skills/Traits. There's a few popular combos out there.

Defensive/Tame Mimics with innate Auto Regain

They spam the AoE Stun+Poison WS interrupting spell casters. Usually, the skills/traits added are auto-Phalanx and Stoneskin which prevents physical attackers from doing much damage to them. Combined with the Stun+Poison they wear down Elementals and prevent them from casting.

Aggressive/Tame Elementals with Magic Def. Bonus.

You can get them to cast any element spell by giving them Black Magic Scrolls. Auto Phalanx+Stoneskin provides protection from interruption by PHY DMG.

Which elemental to go for depends on if you want to/mind using Black Magic Scrolls, what status elements/elemental magic you want it to be immune to, etc. Dark Elementals are popular because they're Sleep immune. I'd kind of like to level a Thunder Elemental because its immune to Stun+Poison. Fire Elementals are also kind of interesting, because Burn and Blaze Spikes are their only non-damaging spells.

Aggressive/Tame/Wild Chigoes with innate Attack Speed Bonus.

This is the last popular combo. You basically want to get one with built-in Attack Speed bonus. Then you either give it Evasion Bonus or Instant Blink to protect its low HP. Then you give it an Enspell or Petrifying Attack. The Enspells can do 80 damage/hit and the Chigoe attacks at Hundred Fists speed. Petrifying Attack basically stones the opponent and overwrites itself, so you basically cheese the other guy to death.

And that's Pankration in a pinch.