2020 Partly in Review

Switch

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.

Playstation

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.

PoGo

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.)

Disc Golf

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.

MMOs

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. 🙂

Triple Dipper

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.

FF14 – Crystal Tower raids

I reached the point in the MSQ where I had to do the Crystal Tower quests to advance. This is a series of quests that leads you to complete 3 raids: Labyrinth of the Ancients, Syrcus Tower, and World of Darkness. Once again I do like the design here, everybody has to raid to advance in the plot and open up new areas.

The raids themselves aren’t too hard. The fights alternate between “trash fights” and “mini boss” fights, with the usual mechanics of extra adds, move out of the telegraphed attack areas, etc. However, at least one fight per raid does throw some extra stuff at you.

In Labyrinth of the Ancients, during the King Behemoth fight, he’ll attack players and leave a giant pile of rocks. Stand behind that pile when he casts Meteor because the rock pile will protect you.

Later, the special attack of the final boss is something to watch for: Ancient Flare by Phlegethon. It kills everyone unless the raid group runs to the platforms at the edge of the arena.

In Syrcus tower, the Amon fight is similar to King Behemoth from Labyrinth, except Amon will freeze players with a pile of ice. Stand behind that pile of ice when he casts Curtain Call and you’ll be protected.

Later, the final boss special attack is Ancient Quagga from Xande. This does enormous damage unless you stand in the aura of his previous attack. It splits damage among players, but also makes them float above the floor… and floating players take no damage from Ancient Quagga.

In World of Darkness, I would put the toughest fight as the first real fight, after clearing the initial trash. That would be Angra Mainyu who has 4+ mechanics to watch out for. He is the boss the taught me the value of “focus target” (shift F) which pulls up a smaller window of the target stats and cast bar. This lets me switch to a different target, such as a player in order to heal them, or an add in order to attack, while still keeping an “eye” (haha, a pun since Angra is a giant floating eyeball) on the focus target.

Angra does:

  • Mortal Gaze, which is avoided by looking away (turning around in game). If not, run to the light up circles in the middle of the room quickly.
  • Double Vision, which splits the room into red and white floors. You need to alternate which color you stand in.
  • Roulette, which splits the room into 4 quadrants with one add each. Don’t be in the last quadrant when the last add dies.
  • Level 100 Flare and level 150 Doom: keep running out of the circle if you are tethered.

It’s crazy, whoever designed this encounter must have won a bet at the Square Enix offices, because Angra has more mechanics than basically the rest of the raid combined.

OK, there is a fun/crazy fight against Cerebus, where one group tries to get shrunken down and eaten by Cerebus, to fight in his stomach! But this is smooth sailing compared to Angra, where there is so much to look out for.

Duty Finder to the rescue and I managed to knock off these raids in a few days, and advance in the MSQ. Soon I’ll open up Ishgard, new zones, new jobs!

FF14 – Healing through the lag

I logged in yesterday evening, looking to kick back and do a few roulettes on my Scholar. No problem, this is part of my routine, besides pecking away at the MSQ.

The roulette dungeon I got was Snowcloak. And right away, I could tell something was wrong, because the game looked like a stop-motion animation movie. It was about 4 seconds of normal movement, followed by 1 second of freeze-in-place.

I ran to catch up to the group, just in time to see my character freeze in place… and die. This was during the very first fight, so I just respawned, resummoned my fairy healer, ran back, and made the best of it. I’m sure the others were impressed with the healer that died during the very first fight. 😉

Combat continued in this herky jerky fashion. I figured the best strategy, if I was to be essentially out of commission for 20% of the fight duration (or more) was to keep Adloquium on the tank as much as possible. It provides a shield buff (called Galvanize) partly nullifying damage, then keep it on the others even if they weren’t in immediate danger. Basically burn extra mana by overhealing and rely on the fairy to heal me.

At one point I mentioned in chat “ugh this is like a stop-motion animation movie”. One of the party members replied “tell me about it”… hm maybe I wasn’t the only one experience the lag?

This worked well and got us to the 2nd boss fight against the Yeti. The fight took a while, due to lag and positioning issues cause by lag, and eventually my luck ran out as I saw myself in the cross hairs of 2 column attacks from adds, frozen.

Anyway, Yeti killed me so I respawned and ran back. Fortunately the group finished the boss off so we continued, and reached Fenrir.

I tried to contribute more DPS, but somewhere about halfway through the fight, I lagged to another death. I respawned, took the shortcut, but that still left a lot of ground to cover before reaching the boss. One by one the group succumbed, and I felt bad about that but I couldn’t really do much.

Nobody said anything.

So we gathered up again, restarted the fight. This time, I only threw my DoT attack (Bio 2), and skipped other attacks in favor of Adloquium upkeep, plus throwing Sacred Soil and the fairy’s Whispering Dawn on cooldown, while staying as mobile as I could.

It was a long fight, I think everybody was dealing with lag and opting for safe play – running out of a telegraphed attack very early rather than staying in range to land an extra hit or two, things like that.

I died yet again, but this time the boss was down to ~5% health so I didn’t respawn and instead just watched, hoping the group would finish him off. They did and we finished, whew. I was so relieved I typed “thank goodness” to the group before everyone exited.

It was surely tough for all but for my troubles as the healer, the group all gave me a commendation. This is another thing I like about FF14 🙂

I decided to call it a night after this due to network performance. And check around to see if I was the only player experiencing the lag.

But I was not – I found a thread on reddit about how terrible the lag was for the entire Crystal data center. Aha, looks like Comcast/Xfinity was having issues.

FF14 – Trying out other classes/jobs

Things are going well in the MSQ, but I decided to try out some different classes/jobs, for variety.

Rogue/Ninja

First up was Rogue. This class isn’t available at the start – you have to complete a level 10 class quest for another non-crafting class first, and apparently unlock the armory system. After that, you can find them in the Lower Decks of Limsa Lominsa.

You’ll gain new, exciting guildmates, and work together to represent the good the Rogue’s Guild can do.

Seriously though, I do like the plot line of the Rogue’s Guild. There is some tension between the official law enforcement and the Rogue’s Guild, mostly due to history. In the end, you fight to prevent an attack against Limsa Lominsa and the Admiral!

The Rogue plays about as I expected – skills chain in to other skills. For example, Gust Slash does potency 100. But Gust Slash after a Spinning Edge does combo potency 300. FF14 is nice and highlights (moving dotted line border) a skill when it can be used for a combo.

It’s fun and I plan to keep going!

Marauder/Warrior

Also available in Limsa Lominsa is Marauder/Warrior, a tank class. I tried it out for a bit (it’s fine!), however as a higher priority I’d rather advance some other classes/jobs first.

Due to the XP boost for being under level 70, working on my hunting log and doing class quests got me to 18 without much downtime. That is high enough level for the first 3 dungeons (Sastasha, Tam-Tara, Copperbell) so I plan to revisit the Marauder in a few weeks and try tanking for groups.

Blue Mage

Also available in Limsa Lominsa is the Blue Mage. What can I say, I’m loyal to my city-state. 😉 It starts in Limsa Lominsa but relocates to Ul’Dah faily quickly.

Anyway, this class is “limited” meaning it has restrictions with grouping and so forth. On the other hand, it offers a much different play style because the Blue Mage captures skills from monsters for their spell book. This reminds me of the Guild Wars elite skill mechanic, where you equip a Signet of Capture and defeat a boss with the elite skill you wanted to capture.

I made it to level 15 as a Blue Mage (again, thank the XP boost, plus Blue Mages get even more on top for fighting landscape mobs) and I don’t have a self heal. And that’s getting to be an issue.

I cheated and looked up the skills in order (sort by minimum level) and have the ones up to level 13, except for the level 1 Whalaqee totem skills, and fights are getting tough because you have to keep the mob alive until after it casts the spell you want, then kill it, without being able to heal! Possibly multiple times since you don’t always capture the skill immediately.

My skill bar right now is: Water Cannon, Blood Drain, Bomb Toss, Faze, Ice Spikes, Acorn Bomb. The two others (Self Destruct, Final Sting) are a bit less than useful. 😉

So, what to do. It certainly is unique and kind of fun to make a skill bar out of monster skills. But unless I missed something, no healing outside potions (??) makes this rough. There are heals but the skills look high level – Pom Cure (unlocked at level 1 but acquired at level 50, what?), Exuviation (unlock level 1, acquire at 50 or 58??).

I still plan to level this class a bit but probably more as a side diversion kind of thing.

Culinarian

I also opened a crafting (Disciple of the Hand) class. I figure cooking will be useful – it’s a consumable and being able to make my own . Cooking is more or less the only crafting I do in LoTRO as well (ok, also farming in order to grow the ingredients).

I reached level 23 mostly by crafting each item, going through my recipe list. Now I need to clean up my inventory as 1.5 bags of space are devoted to cooking ingredients, intermediate results, etc.

FF14 – Unlocking Content

I’ve been following a nice schedule with FF14 these past few days:

  • Log in and check the Duty Roulette. If anything shows “Adventurer in Need: Healer”, queue up. This yields bonus Tomestones and/or Company Seals, which I can use for upgrading my equipment (the former) and getting promotions in my Grand Company (the latter).
  • Peck away at the MSQ. This unlocks new areas, grants equipment (however due to the leveling bonus the MSQ gear is generally surpassed by Tomestones gear).
  • Talk to NPCs with the Blue Exclamation Point/Plus quest marker (the icon that heads the Feature Quests and Class Job and Role Quests sections of Quests). This has unlocked glamours, appearance changing, beast quests (kobolds and sahagin so far, although I notice there are many others!), class/job changing quests, hard modes of dungeons, and probably some other stuff I forgot.

There is a ton to do and I don’t have to waste time traveling or looking for groups!

I had to take a detour to continue promotions in my Grand Company, and complete a hunting log. I didn’t notice before but Grand Companies have a hunting log as well as the base classes.

Anyway, a few mobs I needed were inside the Sunken Temple of Qarn, which was one of the dungeons removed from the MSQ in the streamlining. No problem, Duty Finder to the rescue!

It was a fun time, with a Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe. Thanks to Mizztek’s excellent video I could even feign expertise/familiarity with the mechanics.

I peeked ahead in the Seventh Astral Era quest list and see that I’ll need to finish the Crystal Tower Quests in order to advance past a certain point. Those unlock 3 raids, one at a time… looking forward to checking that out!

FF14 – Thoughts and Plans

My plans in FF14 include trying a few other classes/jobs.

First, get familiar with Scholar and comfortable healing for a group. Then, work through the Seventh Astral Era quests to unlock Ishgard and the Astrologian job

I’m also interested in trying out Rogue/Ninja, perhaps Marauder/Warrior, and maybe dabbling into Dancer and Blue Mage. If I picked a crafting skill, it would probably be Culinarian – I like cooking as a craft for several reasons, one which is that making consumables feels useful. Maybe Alchemist as well, for making potions. But I think that Scholar, Astrologian, Ninja will be plenty to keep me occupied and having fun.

The tricky thing about Marauder/Warrior is that is a tank class/job. As such, it requires more knowledge about the content. Info like: special skills the boss might use and what the tank needs to do (pull boss to particular area, face boss certain way, etc), what mobs drop important items, which direction to go, and so on. So while the queue times might be ever lower than the ones for healers, the tank job requires a familiarity that borders on studying the game! I’m interested, but perhaps later, so that job will be lower priority to level.

To take a break and try something different out, I did train the Rogue class. It turns out that doing my hunting log was enough to get the first dozen levels easily. With a little bit extra I can hit level 15 to qualify for the duty finder and level via dungeons.

At first I thought changing classes/jobs was a gimmick. What’s the difference between that and playing a few alts, something I typically do?

Well, I found out there is a huge benefit – you keep other progress.

Changing classes/jobs may lower your level, but you still keep your mount. So I’m a low level Rogue that happens to have a flying mount in the ARR zones. That’s super handy for working on the hunting log! In a game like ESO where mounts take ~180 days and ~45000 gold to train up, not having to deal with multiple mounts is a big savings.

Also, my rank (reputation) in my Grand Company didn’t change. That can also be huge, depending on how reputation is used in the game.

Fast travel points also stay unlocked. Also a huge time savings over playing multiple alts in other games. The game with fast travel the most similar to FF14 (that I can think of, that I have experience with) is Guild Wars 2, with it’s waypoints. In GW2, every alt needs to unlock the waypoints for each zone, so again FF14’s way is a huge time savings. My lowbie Rogue can pop around the world easily. If that makes questing too easy, you can always walk everywhere. 😉

I like the MSQ (main sequence quest). Advancing that gives you a mount, unlocks airship travel, joins you to a Grand Company, and unlocks various dungeons and trials one by one. It tells a story, unveils some lore (OK I’m not likely to become a lore-head but some fleshing out of the world is nice), leads you around from zone to zone, etc.

The fact FF14 grants you a mount for free (do the MSQ!) and also gives generous bag space starting out is great. No playing the inventory management mini-game, no WoW Classic skimpiness where your starting bag is so tiny even getting four more slots feels amazing. Which is great on one hand (woohoo, 20 inventory slots!) but ridiculous at the same time (I want to play the game, not jerk around with minuscule inventory space). LoTRO is nice in this respect as well, giving you a large amount of bag space from the start.

I also enjoy the class/job quests. The ones I’ve done tell a story, grant skills, and sometimes gear. Guild Wars 1 had a system vaguely similar, where you quested to gain certain skills, and also had to capture some skills from elites (a bit like how the Blue Mage gets skills).

The Duty Finder is a game changer for me. I’ve never played an MMO with such a functional one, that is actually used by the playerbase. It succeeds due to intertwined design: mandatory dungeons along the storyline, a robust down-leveling capability (FF14 calls it “syncing”, as in “duty at level 25 sync”), random dungeon selection, rewards to encourage needed classes and also if any player will be completing for the first time, and of course cross-server grouping. There is also the convenience of transporting you to the dungeon from wherever you are.

As a result, I’ve grouped more playing these past few weeks of FF14 than I have in any other MMO. It’s just so easy to hop in the game for 30 mins to an hour, and group once or twice.

What don’t I like?

Hm… it’ll seem nitpicky but as a native English speaker, hearing or reading Old English (thee, thine, wouldst, must needs, thou) really grates on my ears.

I can see being throttled based on MSQ progress could be spun negatively. It definitely has drawbacks along with benefits, so maybe this is more of a toss-up.

FF14 – Castrum Meridianum and Praetorium

With the end of the ARR main sequence quest line in sight, I cranked through as fast as I could to arrive at Castrum Meridianum. This had a very Latin sound to me, so I used Google Translate to discover this translates to “Castle Midday”. For that matter “Praetorium” (the next dungeon) is “Hall”. So there you go, FF14 has a Latin speaker on staff. 😉

So these two dungeons went by… quickly. As in, my groups basically pulled an entire room and then AoE burned down the mobs. I realize that this content is a few years old and players running in now are likely farming for rewards (Allagan tomestones of poetics) and not struggling with once-upon-a-time endgame content. I’m not complaining!

Both dungeons feature unskippable cutscenes, so new players don’t have to feel bad about slowing the group down (I suppose). The cutscenes are also fairly lengthy, a lot of story is covered, characters that had small or a limited number of appearances before show up extensively. It felt a bit… rushed but I’ll cut some slack here.

Not to spoil the story, but we won. 😀

I’ll dive right into the post-ARR pre-Heavensward content. I need to reach Ishgard in order to continue my class quests and unlock more classes – I am also interested in trying out Astrologian as well as Scholar.

As far as that goes, this is best time for me to start playing as a Scholar and transitioning to a healing job. In fact, these two dungeons offers very compelling reasons for me to go right back in as a healer: they are group size 8 with 2 healers, so I wouldn’t be the only healer there. Both dungeons grant tomestones which I can redeem for better gear – looks like up to iLevel 130.

So I think I’ll split my time between MSQ advancement and roulette queuing as a Scholar.

FF14 – Garuda

The end of the ARR main sequence quests is in sight… but there is one more primal fight to finish: Garuda, in the Howling Eye.

I watched MTQCapture’s video on the fight beforehand, so I have an idea of how it works. I mean, I’m all for the fun and puzzle solving aspect of going in blind, except this fight is years old so I don’t have to do that!

The fight went well,but I’m glad I watched the video in order to know to hide behind the rock piles when Garuda started her screaming.

Questing remains fun, because I do enjoy the fantasy landscapes of Eorzea. After completing a quest that brought me this area, I just wandered around aimlessly in these bridges of broken orange crystals because I thought it was beautiful.

I’ve been impressed with the Duty Finder and how reasonable it has been to find groups in order to progress along the MSQ. On one hand, if the devs are going to require mandatory grouping in order to advance, you expect there to be a solution offered to the players.

Other MMO have group finders, but the in FF14 works so smoothly it is amazing. It’s a system where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole – syncing levels down, changeable classes/jobs, cross-server grouping, a healthy population in the first place, with the double genius of the roulette system: entice players with extra rewards for a role in need (i.e. group needs tank, healer, or DPS) plus the randomness of which unlocked dungeon is picked (prevent “favorite” dungeons from getting all the attention and ensure they all have a chance of being filled) – it all adds up to frictionless grouping.

Queueing as a Summoner, a DPS job, it doesn’t take much time at all to find a group. I think the worst was between 10 and 15 minutes, often it is 5 mins or less. That’s faster than the global LFG system I had to deal with in WoW Classic earlier this year, and a lot less work… in order to participate in what is theoretically the whole point of games in this genre.

Once you queue, you can’t change class/jobs and still enter. Even if you are the same role. I found this out when I queued as a Summoner but then removed my soul crystal to be an Arcanist instead. I remember thinking that due to level syncing and losing a few of my most recent abilities, I’d be better off as the base class (answer is: no, it’s fine, if you sync down levels you just lose the ability to use the particular skills that are higher level than the sync). The game warns about this so you can change back.

I mention this because I’ve read in ESO there is a problem of players getting tired of DPS queues and queuing as “fake tanks” as redditors call them. To be fair to ESO many posts state that many dungeons on normal mode don’t actually need a dedicated tank and it’s fine. Folks get saltier when players want to run harder dungeon modes and queue jumpers sneak in.

FF14 doesn’t have this problem due to stricter class roles. A really functional group finder is a game changer. 😉 Ba da bing.

FF14 – The Stone Vigil

I kept playing along the MSQ, not needing anything else to level. I’m not complaining, obviously the design to get folks like me to the higher levels, play the latest content, (buy the latest expansions and subscribe), needs a little xp boosting to help out.

Along the way I had to help out around the castle at Whitebrim Front, and came across a startling deja vu:

I flashed back to LoTRO and the Balrog’s (Durin’s Bane) corpse that is located in Zirakzigil. Also crashed into the snowy landscape. OK the LoTRO wiki screenshot doesn’t look very similar but I swear you can get a view very similar to the one above! Or my memory is shot, who knows. 😉

Next up in as a mandatory dungeon was Stone Vigil. And here was where I had my first difficult run. Before this, every instance was smooth sailing.

Not to say this was a disaster, but this was the first instance where the party wiped. Right near the start, literally two turns from where you start out.

The thing is, I don’t really remember what happened. We started normally, started the fight, and I was busy going through my rotation, avoiding AoE skills. And then, I hit the ground, and got a popup about returning to the start or waiting. I looked over and the tank was down, perhaps even the other DPS had already restarted and ran back. I suppose technically we didn’t wipe, as in, the entire group was down at the same time. It was more like two players were down, came back one at a time but in the meantime another player went down, etc. so we cycled what ~3 were in the fight at any given time.

Being so close to the start we did manage to beat that initial fight, regroup, and continue.

And here’s the magical thing – nobody complained.

The tank didn’t scream, the healer didn’t scream, the other DPS didn’t say anything. We just… went on and like it was no big deal. I payed super attention the next few fights, worrying maybe I stood in AoE and that caused the healer to save me but then the tank got hit hard just then, etc. Fortunately, the next fights went just fine.

For all I know, what happened could have been anything from a player got distracted by a real life situation, a player fat fingered their skill, we were catastrophically unlucky with a pull, or somebody forgot the role the queued for (I’m sure this happens as this game lets you switch classes/jobs!). Or something else entirely. But nobody griped and several minutes later, we beat the instance!

So, chalk up another victory for the FF14 playerbase and taking things in stride. It’s a game, have fun, trust the other players, don’t gripe and threaten to quit the group at the first sign of trouble. Because I can easily imagine other games where a group hits a “rolling wipe” in the first fight past the entrance, and everybody bails.

Scholar Clothing

In the long term, I want to switch over and try out healing. That’s part of why I chose Arcanist, since the xp is shared with Summoner (DPS) and Scholar (Healing). It’s super efficient, getting two characters for the price of one.

So far my only experience healing is doing the Scholar job quests. Due to the increased XP gain, I was level 45 and could do In the Image of the Ancients to get some very snazzy clothing.

Don’t I look awesome?! In my Scholar gear. The Summoner gear looks cool too (I also cranked out the level 45 Summoner quest that grants armor) but the hat has a horn like I’m a unicorn. I’m digging the look of the mortar board.