It took me a while to figure out the squadron system. What helped a lot was the extremely informative post from Late to the Party Finder. Read it, heck read it twice if you want to know something.
I’ve been pecking away at the missions and reached First Storm Lieutenant. Huzzah!
But there is so much more to explore with the system.
For one, I’ve only done squadron missions, to promote my team, and of course the flagged squadron mission I had to pass to get my promotion to First Lieutenant.
There are also priority missions to try out, when I level them up more.
Both of these types are somewhat passive: you rejigger stats via training, possibly shuffle members around (but I am sticking with my current team of 4. I did make a swap in the not-too-distant past after I realized my squadron had 2 tanks. Oops.), send them off and check 18 hours later.
What I’d like to try out is a Command Mission, where I enter a dungeon accompanied by 3 of my squad members! Doing 5 unique command missions is a required for final promotion to Storm Captain.
Furthermore, I’d like to run a dungeon with my squadron with me as tank, so I need to level up Marauder just a bit more to level 20…
Blue Mage is an interesting class – it uses monster skills obtained by defeating a monster that uses them. Guild Wars had a similar mechanic – various elites have skills you can capture with a Signet of Capture. But in Guild Wars you still had your normal class skills. The Blue Mage, outside the handful of spellcaster common skills (Addle, Swiftcast, Lucid Dreaming, Surecast) has nothing but monster skills.
Earlier I tried it out and got to level 15 before hitting a roadblock. Essentially… no healing. The skills I captured were fun and different, but it was getting very difficult to win fights and stay alive. So I went back to the regular classes/jobs and didn’t plan to continue on Blue Mage.
But, a conversation in the Newbie channel caught my eye. Someone asked where they could get the “1000 Needles” skill because they were a Blue Mage and heard it was really good. They got several responses and several players commented on how great that skill is, how it’s the bread and butter attack for a Blue Mage until level 50, etc.
Intrigued, I did some research and found out where to get the skill (outside Little Ala Mhigo). I made my way there and pondered how to pull this off. After all, I was level 15 on Blue Mage and the mob I had to defeat was Level 26.
I tried attacking but eventually ran away – each of my attacks was doing maybe 5% damage, if they hit, yet I was taking ~25% damage.
So I stood there thinking how I might ask someone to help, when a FATE popped up, literally right across the path from where the Sabotender Bailor I needed to beat was standing.
I kept watching, seeing level 20 NPC guards run out to attack the level 22-23 monsters. I threw a few attacks in, figuring why not, but being so much lower level I wasn’t doing much besides getting aggro and running in circles. Eventually I lost aggro and stood around again.
Then a player showed up, and another, and they started fighting to complete the FATE. A plan formed in my mind… what if I pulled the Sabotender Bailor to the FATE… maybe they’ll help me kill it?!
So that’s what I did. After tagging the Sabotender and positioning him right in the middle of several FATE mobs, the other two players (and NPC guards) starting attacking as well. I threw out a few monster skills but the others did 80% of the work.
And seconds later, the Sabotender was defeated. I got the game message that I just learned “1000 Needles”. Woohoo!!
I immediately tried it out during levequests from Aleport. And yes, 1000 Needles is fantastic. It’s only weakness is the 6 second cast time. O_o. But for 1000 damage it is still worth it. At level 18 I get Swiftcast so I’ll be able to cast 1000 Needles twice, when Swiftcast is available. Two in a row should shred most regular monsters I’ll be fighting!
OK, I forgot to take screenshots while all this happened. Afterwards I went back to take one. You can see the Sabotender Bailor, and the question mark in the mini-map is a quest giver in Little Ala Mhigo. The Sabotender is just outside, literally seconds from the Aetheryte Crystal.
I finally made it to Stormblood! The significance here includes the usual: continuing the storyline, new zones, gear upgrades, new dungeons, new class/job quests… but let’s rewind slightly.
It was only a few quests from where I left off to the final quest in the Dragonsong War sequence (The Far Edge of Fate), with the mandatory dungeon Baelsar’s Wall on the way.
No problem, I prepped by watching MTQCapture’s excellent video. These videos are short and to the point, and allow me to have some idea of what to expect. All things being equal, I’d rather not go into anything blind, especially playing a healer.
And it helped! Well, I can’t really run an experiment where I compare results of me going in blind versus me going in after watching MTQCapture’s videos, but we made it through without any problems.
Onward into Gyr Abania!
Completing The Far Edge of Fate should let me start the next round of job quests, which for me are Summoner, Scholar, Astrologian, Dancer and Ninja… all my jobs that are high enough level to have job quests unlocked by finishing Far Edge of Fate. I’ll peck away after I remember where to go and who to talk to.
I quested to Rhalgar’s Reach, literally the 2nd quest into the Stormblood MSQ, and did some light exploring and questing around. Got reacquainted with my aether-compass because I want to unlock flying in these zones… eventually.
I was blind invited to a guild while running around Limsa Lominsa. The recruiter was polite, messaging if I’d consider joining a Free Company (guild), and after a few seconds I responded sure! And moments after that, I received an invite which I accepted.
I was invited to visit the FC house… and I had to ask how to do that, which another FC member answered quickly. (Pull up the teleport menu and Mist – Estate Hall is the first entry once you join). Then I got a ~30 minute tour, which involved visiting some common areas and private quarters which had been decorated to be 3D puzzle rooms, a disco, art display area featuring a motorcycle-dragon hybrid sculpture, near total sci-fi rethemes, casinos, etc. It was a testament to the creativity of players and what the housing system supports.
I was on the Blue Mage job at the time, so in the mid teens level-wise. My new FC-mate told me that I could buy a private chamber in the house after reaching level 50, 2nd Lieutenant in my Grand Company, and spending 300K gil. They probably thought it was an aspirational goal… except I already meet those requirements, even if I didn’t look like I did at the time. Haha!!
I figured what the heck and bought a room. This resulted in several “hey congrats!” in FC chat.
Night view of the beach from the gazebo in front of the SOS Estate Hall.
The FC is SOS, Spawn of Shadows, and the in-game info panel says they/we are “LGBTQ+ Allies, All inclusive – Laidback FC for both RP and content fun! Laugh, live, wipe, clear, and repeat!”
Sounds fine, I’m just there to enjoy the game with other players.
Every time I visit the Estate Hall there are a handful of guildies… I mean Free Company um… yeah I’m just going to go with guildies, hanging around the front lawn.
Poking around the FC discord shows these folks are really into RP events. There is a weekly schedule which looks coordinated with other FCs on other servers. How does that work? Anyway, there are also a large number of pictures of players showing of their outfits and various events, and notices for upcoming dance/music/RP events. I’m kinda curious what goes on so I might try to show up and observe and maybe participate…?
As far as housing, my private chamber is pretty sad looking. I placed a desk, pile of books, room divider, and futon. I need some plants and something on the walls!
There is a #fashion-reporter channel in the FC discord, which links to weekly Twitter updates and appears to be related to some kind of mini-game available at the Golden Saucer. What the… I’ve never seen this kind of content in an MMO.
Well I’m worried now! The biggest risk to my continued membership might be my bland wardrobe. Currently all my gear is Shire armor/weapons for all jobs/classes high enough level to wear it, so they may kick me out for violating a minimum standard dress code. 😉
I’ve been pretty lucky with guilds in various games. I’ve never researched or pursued one, I either respond in chat to a general recruitment pitch, or accept a blind invite, or actually know somebody in real life and they add me to their guild (this is the preferred method but obviously is not always available). And it has worked out well.
In LoTRO on Anor, one of the earlier Legendary Servers, I saw a guild recruiting in world chat and joined up. I am embarrassed but I can’t remember the name of the guild, I think it was Council of the North, but I didn’t wind up playing on Anor much and I have been since kicked out. Which is fair, guilds need active players, not ghosts.
Way back in Guild Wars, I was blind invited to a guild named The Helpful Guild (THG). Maybe not the most threatening sounding guild, but the players were indeed chatty and helpful. Recruitment went well and we had a core of half a dozen who were frequently on (including me) and loved to run the missions. Over time the leader of THG got busy with real life and stepped back but it was fine because by then we had an allied guild, Sacred Forge Knights (SFK), that was double our size so as I remember it, we basically were absorbed. And continued in the same vein except with twice as many players. Good times until GW2 released and we sort of dissolved with players split between the games and so forth.
In WoW Retail around the Warlords of Draenor time, four coworkers played (!!) so I subbed and joined their guild, The Honor Guard, which was funny because it also had the initials THG. The playerbase may have hated WoD but it was the high point for me in WoW because I played a healer (mistweaver monk) and had a raid spot. It was a ton of fun because the guild was chilled out, we weren’t pursuing world firsts or any of that stuff, just having fun trying to beat the content and having decent success. Good times but unfortunately, real life conflicts cropped up and I had to stop raiding.
In LoTRO in the 2007-2009 era, the heydey I suppose, I joined the Keepers of Ayrshire. I had a friend I knew from Guild Wars and she joined Keepers of Aryshire, and then suggested I joined. We played together in GW but were never in the same guild until Keepers of Aryshire, which we found amusing. This was great, lots of groups to try out dungeons, guild events (I wrote a quiz where the answers were taken from the deed log), raiding. After 2010 the guild started to thin out mostly because players wanted to try out some different games. And in that era of 2010-2012 there was stuff coming out constantly or already launched. I remember players talking about Age of Conan, Secret World, Rift, Guild Wars 2, etc. Nobody’s fault but I think we were a good example of the recruitment adage: if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.
So when I see guilds constantly recruiting… I understand. You have to in order to stay healthy, active, viable.
I decided on a multi-prong strategy for easing back into playing FF14. The game is fantastic but I need to refresh how to play my character. Extra complication there is ramping up on multiple jobs.
However, I’ll simplify and concentrate on one for the time being. That would be Astrologian, my highest level non-80. (Arcanist and thus Summoner and Scholar are level 80). Hey, might as well level a job while also working along in the MSQ!
I had left off almost done with the Dragonsong War quests – Griffin, Griffin on the Wall which requires Baelsar’s Wall (dungeon). But before jumping into Baelsar’s Wall, I decided queue up for a few roulettes first.
First up, the ARR MSQ offerings which are either Castrum Meridianum or The Praetorium. These are the infamous dungeons with lengthy cutscenes, a mistake the devs learned not to repeat. (Since these dungeons throttle the MSQ, you have to do them. Over time, players would skip the cutscenes and rush to the next mini-boss and defeat them, triggering the next cutscene. Players who wanted to watch the story – typical if it is your first time through – would end up watching nothing but cutscenes, do no fighting, and complete the dungeon. So they changed it to unskippable cutscenes and a sweetened rewards pot for repeat players. Because of this, these two dungeons are their own little roulette category.)
Anyway, I got Castrum Meridianum, which I prefer because Praetorium is kind of heavy on the cutscenes. I think I timed it as 45 mins to complete, half of which is villain exposition. Although Gaius van Baelsar does pop off one of my favorite evil villain quotes, railing against “creeping mendacity”. hehe. The other annoyance of Praetorium is quasi session-play where you get in an armored tank and have new skills for fighting, for a bit. That’s cool when done well (e.g. LoTRO where you revisit some historical figure and play as them with overpowered skills) but here I get to shoot a laser or throw a bomb. Which is fine but I picked my class/job to play those skills, not armored chicken skills.
One stunner was this was my first group that actually fought every mob on the way, instead of running past all the trash to get needed items and/or fight the mini-boss to advance to the next area. It was quite surprisingly and welcome, because I was also re-acquainting myself with my various attacks and heals.
After this success I queued for a Alliance Raid and got a Labyrinth of the Ancients selection: Syrcus Tower. Whew, I’m glad it wasn’t World of Darkness because Angra Mainyu can be a tough fight.
That went well so I decided to queuing for a leveling roulette, and I got Sohm Al. Here is where my rusty play started to show.
First, somehow my Sect buff got turned off. Astrologians have two skills (Diurnal Sect, Nocturnal Sect) that add an extra effect (regen, shield) to some skills (Aspected Benefic, Aspected Helios). The catch is those skills won’t work unless you are running one of the buffs, and the message you get is something like “skill isn’t ready for use yet” and not something better like “need diurnal/noctural sect running”.
So pretty quickly in the dungeon, one DPS died because I was trying to heal them with a skill that threw errors. It took me too long to remember what the error meant. But, they didn’t say anything when I rezzed them other than “Thank you”. I felt bad, and of course turned on Nocturnal Sect.
Progress went well until the final fight against Tioman. Here the problem was me getting caught in a telegraphed attack. Tioman does a attack called Chaos Blast that I would describe as an asterisk pattern plus small AoE around each player. I positioned myself too close to other players and couldn’t run out of the AoE fast enough and died…. once, twice, three times. Grrrr. First time was a surprise, second time I was rezzing someone and waited just a fraction too long, third time I was stuck in a large overlap and was doomed. Unfortunately my demises eventually lead to wipes since nobody else could heal.
On the fourth time, I hung out towards the edge of the arena, maximizing the area of safety I could run to. And we won. I’m sure the rest of the group was as relieved as I was.
Group was chill the entire time, and I even got a commendation. Probably somebody realizing I was a returning player and a bit rusty. They can tell because I have the “returning player” status icon instead of the “new adventurer” icon (a.k.a. sprout). Plus the game automatically adds you to the Novice Network chat channel when you return as I did, after taking some time off. So I also have the “joined novice network” (sprout with halo) icon.
The first one I played, Asheron’s Call, didn’t have that. In contrast, the second one I played, Guild Wars, did and I really enjoyed it. I liked advancing the plot, I enjoyed the missions; same with the expansions Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North.
Fast forward a bit to LoTRO and it’s lengthy storyline. I love that. In fact I’m looking forward to starting on a new server and progressing through Vol 1 Book 1 to …checks wiki… The Legacy of Durin and the Trials of the Dwarves.
ESO also has a storyline, multiple storylines actually. There’s the original main quest of the base game (starts with Soulshriven in Coldharbour), a storyline for each zone, a storyline for each guild… plus the usual boatloads of side quests.
FF14 has a very long MSQ (main sequence quests) that leads you through the game. In fact you need to go through it to unlock feature like mounts, airship travel between cities, the ability to return to an aetheryte crystal, joining a Grand Company, the ability to swap classes/jobs… Heck entire zones are unlocked as I found out. I tried to run across the Dravanian Hinterlands to get into Idyllshire early to buy some armor, but that doesn’t work because you can’t get in until you, you guessed it, advance the MSQ.
Another MMO with a great storyline that I’m not currently trying to juggle into my rotation is Secret World, oops I mean Secret World Legends. I got stuck and couldn’t pass a mission to advance the plot and rage quit after trying a half-dozen times. Well partly rage quit – I didn’t delete my characters and then rant on the forums. I just stopped playing. Maybe I’ll try again…
I kind of abandoned FF14, without meaning to. It was a two-fold whammy – normally December is a busy month with holidays, travel, etc. So I typically don’t play much from Thanksgiving to New Years. Then, in late December a friend picked up ESO (via Stadia) and suddenly I had a chance to play a game I enjoy with someone I know.
So, I let my FF14 subscription lapse.
Now, seeing the excitement for EndWalker, enthusiasm for FF14 in general, I’m interested in playing again. I could play a day or two a week, peck away at the storyline. I always did have a fun time with group content and the roulette system is smooth. I’d typically advance the MSQ as a healer if that job weren’t maxed, otherwise play a dps job; switch to a healer for a mandatory dungeon in order to benefit from the shorter queues; then keep going. This worked great and switching jobs/classes might spoil me for other games over the long term!
I was further along in the storyline than I had blogged (spacing out my posts). I did make it to Ishgard and unlock the Astrologian job. I can’t quite remember how far I got in the MSQ but I believe I left off in the Dragonsong War questline somewhere.
So, I’d like to sub again and work through the storyline more. Perhaps even get a nice rotation going where I devote my playtime once or twice a week towards FF14.
Dang it was hard to find where to download the game client. To save disk space I uninstalled so I needed to get the game client again. I looked all over the website, Mog Station, Lodestone, etc and finally after about 30 mins (literally) I found a link by searching Mog Station Support around the FAQ section under installation: getting the game client for a free trial.
All the other options either wanted me to buy the game (which I already did) or register for a free trial (am I supposed to create a fake email and fake account just to get the game client?!). I spent a lot of time clicking around and getting redirected to previous web pages, filling out forms to be told the email was in use (YES I know just give me the game client), etc. Ugh.
[more time passes…]
Anyway, I finally got the client downloaded and installed again. And logging back in to the bagpipes music in Idyllshire brought a wave of nostalgia (if I can call it nostalgia having only been away for 6 months). I also popped into Mor Dhona to listen to the music for a bit. And then I wandered around Ul’dah for the “Sultana’s Dreaming” theme song.
Next up is getting reacquainted with playing again, haha.
Nintendo sends out a summary of games played and so forth:
The bulk of my hours was split between Slay the Spire (which I also own on Steam), Fitness Boxing, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate.
StS is fantastic and my total combined time on Steam and Switch is approaching 300 hours. My favorite character is the Defect, whose mechanic is summoning and evoking orbs for various effects: lightning for damage, frost for shield, plasma for energy, and dark for damage (scales up over time). On Steam, I’m at ascension level 6, whereas on Switch I’m on ascension level 2. The game has randomness, but allows skillful choices to steer towards an improved/better outcome. It is easy to pause and resume, which really helps.
I remember getting these kinds of summaries for Playstation, but I haven’t seen it yet. So… not sure, maybe it is still coming? I’m curious what my numbers look like there. It’ll be mostly God of War, ESO, some Ghost of Tsushima.
Over in Pokémon Go, I hit level 41:
I have the XP for level 42, but lack 2 of the achievements: using berries to catch 200 pokémon, and evolving each of the eevees. The latter is the reason I’m currently walking a flower eevee – getting in 10km for a future flower Umbreon (and later, flower Espeon). The Glaceon and Leafeon evolve with special lures on pokéstops, while the Flareon, Jolteon, and Vaporeon are random (which is extremely annoying). Playing the odds I evolved 2 flower eevees into a Flareon and Jolteon, but producing a Vaporeon is now just a 1/3 chance so I’ll just do regular eevees since they are more plentiful.
I’m evolving flower eevees for this (except for the Vaporeon as noted above) because I already have a set of shiny and regular eeveelutions. I’ll work on a different set, flower eevees instead – and I don’t have enough party hat eevees for a set of those. I already used the naming trick or I’d be able to guarantee myself a flower hat Vaporeon. I know, I know, #firstworldPoGoproblems.)
I took up disc golf midway through the year, as a way to get some social distance outdoors fun in. I found out that a few friends also played, without any of us knowing the others did. I also introduced 2 friends to the game (and am working on another) so once it warms back up I’m looking forward to playing a round every week or so.
Of course there is an app for that, and I’m using UDisc, the official app of the Professional Disc Golf Association. It’s pretty handy, letting you keep score, and often displaying a map of the course. It utilizes the phone very well, letting you measure how far you threw a disc with GPS (subject to GPS accuracy).
I’m a RHBH thrower (right hand back hand) and a good throw for me is a little over 200 feet. I’ve tried forehand and it feels really weird. So, something to work on here and there. I can improve my distance by at least 50% (i.e. throwing for 300 feet) so there is huge room for improvement.
I’m also working on accuracy, throwing the direction I want to go. 😉 I am fairly accurate, so my favorite courses are wooded or lightly wooded, since those tend to have shorter distances from tees to baskets, favoring accuracy over distance. Worst case for me are wide open courses, because those tend to have large distances involved – after all, if there aren’t many obstacles the only way to increase difficulty is to lengthen the holes.
I’m going to try a round robin system in 2021. If left to my normal scheduling, I’ll tend to “split” time between 2 games in a 80-20 proportion, which is pretty far off of 50-50. 3 games comes down to 70-20-10 or even 80-10-10 – basically one game is dominant while the others get a cursory log in.
But I like 3 games… FF14 has a fun storyline, smooth mechanics, and above all hassle-free grouping. Which is the point, otherwise I could be playing a single player game. I’m nearly at Ishgard and looking forward to unlocking Astrologian.
LoTRO of course is my very long term game, which I wander away from but come back missing it. I left my Boerning partway through Vol 1 Book 3, Defense of Trestlebridge as I recall, and want to move him along. I somehow have not managed to meet up with the coworker who also plays, but that’s fine, I’m poking along with a different character than the one I used my Valar boost on. Maybe I’ll just give up on meeting up with my coworker and look for a kinship to join.
ESO’s action combat feels a lot different, but the variety is nice. Now that I switched over to the Stadia version, I can play while visiting family (and also freed up nearly 100 GB on my gaming PC). I have a friend also playing via Stadia, so there is the possibility of questing together with someone I know, maybe even doing some basic dungeons. I don’t think we’re interested in hardcore modes, veteran modes, any of that stuff…. just the basic XYZ Dungeon I version would be a ton of fun.
So, I was thinking about some kind of day-pinning rotation: ESO on Tue/Fri, FF14 on Wed/Sat, LoTRO on Thu/Sun (with Mon off since that’s currently Zoom boardgames night). I’ll schedule ESO first as that’s the game I have a friend actively playing, and try to sync up. So this overall plan is a 33-33-33 split without emphasizing or ignoring any particular game.
Or maybe be more flexible and try for something like ESO Tue, FF14 Wed, LoTRO Thu, and then whatever for the other 3 available days. Worst case one game gets 2/3rds of the attention, but at least play each game once a week.
I know, probably overthinking this but that’s what this end of the year planning time is for. 🙂
I’ve double dipped (buying a game I already own) too many times to count. Sometimes in order to get a higher def or remastered version of the game, sometimes to play on newer hardware, etc. Example of this include the Ratchet & Clank series I owned on the PS2… well when the all-in-one PS3 remaster came out, I bought it.
Sometimes it is to play on additional hardware. For example, Slay the Spire. I have this on Steam and like the game so much I bought the Switch version too.
This folks is but the tip of the iceberg. I’ve double dipped so many games I’d need to audit various game libraries to count them. Heck, half the stuff I’ve bought on GoG are games I loved from the 90’s (Descent, Syndicate Wars, Magic Carpet, Planescape Torment, etc) so those count. Never mind I’ve barely even started any of them up… I just wanted access to a copy of those games since my originals are long gone.
These days it is easy to double dip, various Humble Bundle tiers often make sense to buy the top level, which includes the lower levels and possibly (probably) games already owned elsewhere. I went in on that crazy itch.io’s 1500 games for charity bundle – I have no idea about um… 80% of what that even included so it’s possible I’ve double dipped another 50 games (just guessing and that might be conservative) without even knowing it.
I’ve got other douple dips too: Dark Souls (PS4 and Switch), lots of indies like Supergiant Games (Bastion, Transistor, Hades – I have for both Steam and Switch), Klei games (Don’t Starve, Invisible Inc – I have for both Steam and Switch), etc. What can I say… other than I do try to catch good sales. 🙂
But the triple dip, now that is rarer. And I realize I’ve done that twice now. Both are MMOs…
One is, *drum roll*, Elder Scrolls Online. Yes, I bought the Stadia version in a Black Friday sale. Base game, Morrowind, Summerset, Elsweyr, Greymoor, for $20?! Heck yes. And I’ve been playing on my chromebook and it is fine. Well, mostly fine. It’ll be much improved when I get a mouse and/or the Stadia controller. Trackpad… not ideal for this use case.
First dip was my original Steam purchase. Second dip was the PS4 version. Third was the Stadia version.
I linked the Stadia purchase to my ESO account (which also linked the Steam version, as I found out when I went trolling through my account info) so I had access to my existing chars. I could have restarted since I wasn’t all that far along, but I had collected the $100K daily reward, been training a horse, etc. I figure I’ll continue my Templar and then also play a Warden now and then.
Second MMO I’ve triple dipped is… Final Fantasy 14! Yes, I bought this on Steam years ago (and bounced off it). Then my second dip was the PS4 version, but didn’t like the controller option. I think the controller is fine for actual combat and selecting skills, but so much stuff in an MMO is sorting inventory, open various journals, using a map, and all of that didn’t feel as nice on the PS4. (Whereas the UI for ESO has been progressively streamlined and more and more controller-friendly starting years ago with the single player games. Plus ESO is more action-combat rather than tab-target.)
Third dip into FF14 was back on PC, taking advantage of the play-for-free-through-Heavensward content, and for that I had to create a new account and eventually went on to sub and buy Stormblood and Shadowbringers. I’m still really enjoying the game this time around and plan to keep on chugging through the MSQ, and enjoy the frictionless grouping for content.
LoTRO is only a double dip for me, but those two purchases were for two lifetime accounts. 🙂 I’ve gotten my money’s worth there for sure.