On Monk Footwork, NPC Fellow LVL70 and Faith Baghnackhs

On Monk Footwork, NPC Fellow LVL70 and Faith Baghnackhs
So I have been playing less and less recently, and all the new updates and changes haven't made things any better.
Still, I get a lot of questions about various things so it's time to make an update. Specifically this entry will cover:
  • The new MNK JA, Footwork
  • The most powerful item in the game, NPC fellow now capping at 70
  • random thoughts on other new stuff

    For good measures I am including a video of all these things, showing skillchains with NPC, fast continuous punching with F.Bagh instead of footwork, and the average range of damages of hits and WSs under the new JA, with and without dune boots.

    Monk Footwork:

    So finally Monk got an update, which gave us a new job ability, Footwork. The bad news is I hate it. The good news is that at least it didn't make Monk worse, and could be kinda useful, situationally.
    I usually try to make the best out of situational skills like these and find one cool application where they are useful (for example that's why I showed how to solo the 6 scorpions BCNM with mnk/dnc etc)...
    But for some reason I really dislike this ability so much that I didn't really get around trying to make it useful yet.
    It just makes you attack so... slowly, it's painful.  It feels like wielding a scythe and not like playing MNK.
    That's one of the reasons why I added Faith Baghnackhs in the video and in this entry, to show the difference between how monk should feel like, as an unstoppable continuous punching machine, and how annoying footwork is to use, with an 8 second pause between each single attack...
    So let me start off with the video and then go into the math and details of footwork and the possible advantages you can get for taking all the fun out of monk. Here's the video:
    Now let's talk about the ability itself:
  • Less TP feed: The main thing about it is that you attack a LOT less and you don't use H2H.
    That can be useful in case say you are doing an event with an alliance and want to feed less TP to an hNM and you want most of your damage to come from WS. 
  • Higher damage per hit: You attack for higher damage, and if you wear them it uses dune boots damage for both hits and for DK. It basically doesn't use a weapon, so it takes the base damage to be +18 over the damage of normal kicks. To give you some rough numbers as an example, your highest critical damage with destroyers would normally be around ~189 (from +18dmg weapons), using footworks and dune boots you get up to ~280. Without dune boots you are back down to ~189.
  • Lower DoT: Sure you do more per hit damage, but you attack so slowly that your total damage over time is actually lower in normal situations like xp or merit PTs. This is even worse if you didn't have something like dune boots.
  • Higher WS damage: As I mentioned they apparently changed DragonKick damage a bit when footwork is on. When that is on apparently dragon kick damage is enhanced by wearing dune boots. By how much? Well in practice not by too much, I usually see a difference of 10% damage between with and without dune boots during DK.
    Against EP monsters you would still always use Asuran fists, you do 1300 damage without footwork with asuran, while Dragon Kick will still only do ~900 even with Footwork and dune boots on. With 300TP you can get DK to reach ~1500+ (DK wTP is 2x at 100 and 3.5x at 300, see video too) but that's still a waste and less reliable.
    Occasionally you can get a nice double attack on DK to make it shoot up to 1400-1700 even at 100TP but it's just based on luck and more for screenshot purposes because on EP you would still be better off with asuran at 100 every time.
  • Only works with H2H, doesn't stack with Hundredfists: you can't use staff or clubs, and if you turn on hundredfists you don't kick while it's active, you only punch as normal.
  • Attack Boost: Footwork also increases your attack, seems to be a boost of about 10%. This can be useful on harder monsters, and it also makes footwork useful to turn on right before WS, like an extra Boost, and click off right after (although I think that also greatly delays your next attack so it's probably not worth it for WS damage alone).
    Another use could be to turn it on together with hundredfists just to get the attack boost without the annoyance of the slow attacks or kicks-only (note, I tried this and it seems the attack boost is canceled during hundredfists, so no advantage in using it now).
  • Higher TP return: The TP return from attacks and WSs is not exactly higher, it is just proportionally higher based on the super slow delay it gives you. So AsuranFists TP return is no longer 5x2+1x6 but it becomes 13x2+1x6=32TP, and 26TP from DragonKick. Similarly for TP for each kick, around 13TP depending on Haste, StoreTP etc.
  • Stats from H2H weapon don't matter: The attack speed and damage are unaffected by whatever you wear as knuckles, some extra stats like destroyers crit+ don't apply, probably the only thing that does apply while Footwork is on are plain stat increases, like say STR+3 DEX+3 etc (acc+ might only apply to normal punches and not kicks).

    That's pretty much all there is to say on footwork.

    NPC Fellow, the strongest item in the game.
    The fellow NPC just got a few updates too.  I would say that is the strongest item in the game (as the two items that can call it, signal pearl and tactics pearl to call it up to 3 times in the same fight or 5 times in a day) if you ever solo anything.
    Recently the NPC was allowed to cap at lvl 70 instead of 65, that is a big boost to his accuracy, TP gain, chance to enfeeble etc. In terms of spells there's not a lot new except one more level of shell, but already the spells it has are a great advantage, haste, protect4, shell4, cure5s, dia2, -na spells, enfeebles, etc.

    Another great change was that your NPC can now enter a few more areas like the past, and can now move across zones with you and even log off and log back on with you.

    The NPC was one of the few new things that actually still caught my interest for a bit and gave me something to do on my own time (especially with the new logoff change I could just kill a few monsters at a time to give it xp, then log off and continue another time).
    Getting it to level 70 took a bit longer than before because it needs a bit harder monsters with a lot more HP to get maximal amounts of XP, essentially monsters where I would get XP chainst too at 75.
    Plus there is a new point system to improve your NPC and let it stay longer (I think each extension is an extra 10min, I already upgraded it twice)

    I also tried to switch weapon from GKT(usefulforGekko->Darkness) to Staff for my NPC, since now you can turn off AoE WSs and I thought it would be nice to give it Spirit Taker... I wasn't very impressed, it uses it too rarely and is too low damage to even restore sufficient MP... so I think I will switch back to GKT for those 500 damage Gekkos I can turn into Darkness skillchains.

    As a final topic, let me say what I didn't like too much about the updates:
    Campaign items: It became more of a chore to try to keep upgrading medals in campaign and preventing them from expiring. When I saw the new items for the highest ranks are essentially more useless ugly items (more cobra set generally inferior stats to anything else) it felt like a huge waste of time. I bought one item and demoted myself

    I mean I guess it can still be fun to do a campaign every now and then, but it should have some meaningful reward aside from just useless xp.
    And the rest of the new items? I don't know, it seems like just more of the same stats rearranged around. The craften herald gaiters might be affordable some day, but I mean they are basically the same exact item, just obtained differently...
    And the zNMs seem like a good idea but they should make some soloable, although I guess it is something to keep LSs busy with too so it's not all that bad. I didn't see any item too exciting for monk in all of them. The kick boots all seem pretty uninteresting, the crafted ones are too easy to get and the r/ex one seems to do the same exact thing.
    There are some rings that increase resist to various diseases, but that stuff seriously never really works in practice, it's like it chances your chance to get enfeebled by 0.001%...
    And there are decent items like a headgear with atk+8 and acc+8, but would you ever wear it over ohat or walhara? Most likely not, the 8atk is just very minor and if you are fighting something hard you would most likely want the higher acc of ohat and its evasion, dodging a 400dmg hit is a lot more useful than punching for 2 more damage because you can't punch while you're dead.
    Even the storage furniture change seemed unnecessary, you still pretty much end up just using like 10 bahuts to cap your storage even on mules and that's more cost/space efficient than anything else...
    You get the general idea, I wasn't all that positively impressed by anything in these last updates...

  • Genome

    Things you probably didn't know about Guard, a great and often underestimated skill for Monks

    Things you (probably) didn't know about Guard, a great and often underestimated skill for Monks
    This entry will be about guarding. I will make the following points (also supported by video and screenshots):
  • Guard is very useful and you can achieve very high guard activation rates if you know what you are doing.
  • Guard is underestimated and often measured incorrectly
  • Guard damage reduction is not completely understood (lower bound effects)
  • Guard can completely nullify WSs or TP moves (showing them as 'evaded')
  • Guard will activate even while Petrified, Stunned or Asleep.
  • Skillups can occur even while stoneskin is up or during AoE TP moves/WS centered on someone else.

    Guarding makes up for the inability to parry with H2H equipped and used to be a monk-only skill. PUP can also use it now, but between their B- rating and equipment, they end up about 60 points less (that's as much skill difference as that between a level 75 and a level 58). Guard is very hard to skillup because it doesn't activate through shadows like parrying can. Also while parrying is great because it can save shadows, it activates a lot less even for jobs that can use it and have high parrying like PLD or NIN. I haven't seen parrying activating 4-5 times in a row for example (compare to the back to back guards in my video here).

    The fact that guard is so hard to skillup however can also be a good thing, it's one of the few things that might show the difference between someone that just occasionally plays as monk and someone that thinks of it as their primary job. Also, when everything else is so easy to cap (even xp/merits), it's good to have still a nice potential skillup reward from doing random activities.
    NOTE: For tips/strategies related to getting guard skillups, especially at lower levels (guard from 1 to 220 or so), refer to my old entry on guard skillups from 2+ years ago, and for other entries on various monk-related topics, refer to my INDEX.

    Video: All about Guard:
    Let's start with the video I made on guard, and explain in more details after that (you can go back to specific sections of the video to see examples of each point):

    Guard damage reduction
    Guard is a great defensive skill, it reduces damage taken by subtracting one from enemy's pDIF. That means it turns criticals into non-criticals, and can greatly reduce damage from normal hits. pDIF ranges from 0 to ~2.46 and is capped at those values so the % damage decrease from subtracting 1 varies.
    However, guard seems to have a higher, non-zero, lower bound, so if you are already getting hit for just ~15 for example, your guarded damage will also be just 15 (no change), and not 0 (you can see this in the video with 7dmg after phalanx). I don't think that's ever mentioned in discussions about guard and should be tested more to figure out the exact lower bound effect.
    On average the damage reduction tends to be about 75% (for example from 80 normal damage to 20 guarded damage, or from 200 to 50). Where does the number -1 pDIF come from? I am not really sure to be honest, it's never linked to any reference or test. However it at least matches its effect on critical hits damage (which is probably where it came from, since critical hits add +1 to pDIF, and that's well tested and easy to verify), so it's probably a good assumption, however as I said it doesn't explain well situations where normal hits and guard hits are capped at the same non-zero lower value. One possibility since I observed this mostly on chigoes is that it's not something about guard but something about chigoes, for example if they have an extra +15 damage to their hits even when their pDIF is 0.
    Why is Guard underestimated?
    A lot of people often assume guard is not too useful because they have it severely underskilled, so they rarely ever see it activate. It's also extremely difficult and slow to skillup compared to much easier ones like parrying.
    Many people playing monk also tend to think all they need to wear is ATK+ so they don't think of wearing AGI+ to increase their chances of guard.
    As with many things in this game, there are threshold effects for activation (look at DEX and critical hits for example). At 75 you can stack up on a LOT of AGI+ gear and a lot of guard+ gear (a lot more than you could for example in level capped areas or while playing other jobs like PUP). Generally you wouldn't want to do that in normal situations (usually you want more well-rounded gear), but if you want to test and see how good guard can be, you have to gear up accordingly.
    Guard activation is very dependent on your enemy's stats and your AGI. Even with high guard you should load up on AGI and should expect reduced guard against monsters with high melee stats (especially high-DEX monsters).
    But the most important reason why guard is underestimated is that even in the few situations where people have it leveled up and actually try to test it, they measure it incorrectly. You can't just count guard animations while you are meleeing because even attack animations will override/cancel guard animations (count blood animations vs hits taken instead, or you will always undercount %guard).

    Why is guard great?
    For one thing, if it activates while getting hit by an enemy TP move or WS, it nullifies it (just like third-eye from sam). How can you tell? generally it's difficult to tell It gives a deceiving/vague message unfortunately (as most things with monk, see kick attacks for example), basically the same message as if you dodged it. Fortunately however the guard skillups while being hit by a WS are a dead giveaway:

    You can also notice that you will 'evade' WS a lot more often if you are in a position to guard (engaged and facing a monster) than you would otherwise (whereas evasion should work equally even while turned away or not engaged):

    And of course 'evading'/guarding enemy's TP moves can be VERY useful:

    The best way to measure guard rates:
    Unfortunately there is no special chat log message for guard activation (unlike parrying), so you can't measure it straightforwardly in a parser. On top of that, you can't rely on counting the guard animations either. If your guard happens while you are in the middle of any other animation, including your attack round animation, the guard animation will be skipped (you can see some examples of this in the video I made here).
    The only completely reliable way to measure it is by looking at the purple 'blood-splatter' animation as you get hit. Normal hits have it, guarded normal hits don't have it. (note that you still need to look at the log because critical guarded hits still have it, but their damage will be a normal value, or you will again underestimate your guard count). What about parsing? Well it can be possible in some situations to get at least a partially accurate figure, if you fight the same monsters with fairly consistent stats and look at damage during guard animation, and then count hits taken with that damage. That of course works well only when normal fluctuations of pDIF are still above that value. For example for many T monsters that hit you for ~80 you will guard for about 17-18 each time.

    A note on Campaign and guard:
    Campaign is one place where you can achieve high guard activation, and you probably want to. Since it has various xp caps for activities like just doing damage, you want to do things like cure HP and take damage as well in oder to get good points and xp. MNK/DNC is great for that, and guard helps solo any campaign monster well (it's actually harder when other low level \players start meleeing the monster you were soloing, giving it tons of TP while adding almost no damage, even while there are plenty of other unclaimed monsters).
    You can see how often and by how much I reduce damage with guard during campaign:

    Here are some examples of how much I get as MNK/DNC in campaign (with low level medals):

  • Genome

    Soloing everything in Sea + HP fun + Advice to new Monks for NM hunting

    Soloing everything in Sea + HP fun + Advice to Monks for NM hunting (Mee Deggi etc.)

    In previous entries I showed how monk can solo very high and very fast xp on VT imps (level 80-81), and how new job combinations like MNK/DNC can let me solo BCNMs like the 6 scorpion Operation Desert Storm or get solo xp/merits even more smoothly. But that doesn't mean all you can kill is imps or that older subjobs can't still be great or even better in some situations.

    So for this entry I thought I would show an example of where older more conventional subjobs are still best, and how monk can fight countless types of VT+ monsters (although usually there is no special reason to fight most of them).
    To show this, I chose farming various sea monsters, since getting the r/ex organs is a very useful goal in itself.

    But first, just for fun, here is a screenshot of my HP-build in besieged (using a giant drink, which doubles your base HP, but not your +HP% gear unfortunately, that's why my HP is 2565|4565 and not 2565|5130). So here is my HP before and after using the giant's drink (note, this is not quite my absolute max HP, I just used carbonara food instead of turtle soup for example, and no cassie earring, so I could easily add another 200ish HP or more to that).

    Anyways, back on topic. Basically as monk you can solo everything in Sea (except NMs like UFOs/Youvra, which you can still duo however as mnk/nin with a RDM). For example here is a few kills like the blue VT shark phuabo (as mnk/dnc), the shapeshifting VT aw'ghrah (usually as mnk/nin), the VT pot-shaped aw'zdei (also usually as mnk/nin), aerns (although more of a pain and no reason to ever fight the harder ones):

    Flawless VT Euvhi Solo as mnk/nin:

    One of the most useful but hardest monster to solo for monk is the flower-type Aw-Euvhi.
    It can be hard because it attacks very fast (with double attacks etc) and can hit for 200~300 damage with just normal non-critical attacks, plus it has a lot of TP moves, some of them very powerful.
    It is useful because it drops pop item for the Jailer of Faith NM and because it drops organs for the sanative earring, the highest hHP+ earring in the game (not all that essential but nice to have).
    Below is a video showing how to solo VT flower monsters without getting hit at all (which requires strategy, timing and gear swaps to get the right mix of counter, evasion, haste and job abilities).
    I think other people showed how to solo this before, but it was never too smooth of a fight, and people used too much unnecessary support or preparation (like trying to fully boost chiblast to take the monster down to 75% from the start). Instead I wanted to show how easy it can be just straight-tanking and using monk's other great stats and JAs, and how you could chain even 3-4 of them back to back without the need for all that boring boosting. I picked a slightly harder to reach camp (around J-12) to get 4 flowers next to each other, but as monk you can solo all the VT monsters in the area (like the zdei pots) and any VT spider that might accidentally aggro on the way.
    I show 3 fights without any extra buffs (just food, not even signet to keep tp while healing etc) to show how monk can solo even the VT ones without getting hit even once, and demonstrate how you can get some nice chain2+ from just the flowers on both sides (reducing unnecessary wait for repops), and to give yet another example of how shiva's claws can be very effective even on VT enemies like this (in the third fight).
    Here is the video:
    and here are some screenshots of the solo xp chains (without xp rings) and possible drops:

    Tips and Suggestions to new Monks (and everyone else) for camping NMs:

    I thought I should post on this topic because some people can get very frustrated by the extremely low drop rates and competition setup in this game.
    And what's even worse, some starting monks get talked into doing things like essentially abandoning normal fun play and leveling because they are told it is somehow disgraceful to level a certain job past a given level without some specific rare or expensive gear drops...
    Of course some gear has very nice stats, but nothing that will have such an impact that it could really justify not having fun for long periods of time. In fact people with actual parsers or trying to do the same things before or after obtaining one of these items will generally end up disappointed by the smaller actual impact compared to the inflated expectations they had built up.

    What I would recommend to people is to try to shift a bit that attitude and try instead to do that as an extra bonus activity, for example whenever possible try to simultaneously farm for gil, get decent solo XP, BCNM seals and maybe even level up your NPC fellow in the same area where the NM pops. so that you still have fun and get something accomplished whether you get the drop or claim or not. And if you can't ever seem to get the drop, by then you probably have plenty of seals to try and get the equivalent BCNM drop with a couple of friends, or enough gil to just buy it.

    As an example, two useful pieces for monk are o.kotes and fuma boots. They are in no way required but they are a very nice boost at the level when you can first wear them (and for capped areas activities if you are already 75).
    They made both items R/EX so they are not targeted by gilsellers and hopefully now anybody trying to use bots etc gets banned quickly, so it's a much more leveled plainfield.

    The first piece of advice specific to these two is don't expect to get a drop just because you claimed and killed the NM, many people will go as high as 0 drops in 40 kills before getting one.

    I was recently playing around with BST37/DNC and decided to get xp and seals from Castle Oztroja with the possible (but improbably) bonus of getting the shinier R/EX drops (just to use on capped areas since I have better gear at 75 of course). BST has the added advantage of widescan (and provoke from /DNC) and if you see a given NM pop enough time you get a bit quicker at getting to it and claiming. Anyways, here is an example of typical drops for Mee Deggi as I was getting seals and xp for BST (I ended up leveling up 5 times in this area alone, notice the changing XP):

    and finally (after more of the same,

    So if you have a job of the right level, consider putting your solo XP camp near a NM instead of just feeling like you wasted your time unless you get a rare drop.
    Eventually you will stop playing this game, but while you still play you might as well keep it as enjoyable as possible. Plenty of things ingame have no real point but might still be nice to do...


    FFXI March 11 update for Monks + EASIEST Solo BCNM battles any Monk can do

    FFXI March 11 update for Monks + EASIEST Solo BCNM battles any Monk can do
    I haven't posted in 2 months mostly because I play very little nowadays. Still, there's been an update so I'll make a quickly-put-together post.
    Summary and implications of the update: The few hours during maintenance are always full of speculation, because we can all read the update notes but it's not clear what impact they will actually have, and people's imagination can go wild and cry foul at things that are just speculations, while others start calling "huge nerf" this or "broken and overpowered" that without cause. As usual it's much better to just wait a few hours and actually at least try it in game first before making a lot of assumptions.

    Having said that, here is a summary of the main changes for monk and job balances I more or less tested out so far:
  • No changes whatsoever to monk main (no surprise there)
  • MNK/DNC changed a little (curing waltz cures 80% of what it used to as sub, that's the only change and not so drastic). Specifically, the effect of VIT and CHR on cure waltzes as sub is much weaker than it used to. From my quick tests, CHR+10 and VIT+25 gives 172HP (SS here ), CHR+10 VIT+10 gives 168, CHR+0 VIT+20 also gives 168, and CHR+0 VIT+0 gives 163. So 20 VIT only gives 5HP. In contrast, before this update curing waltz2 used to be capped at 215.
  • MNK/SCH is now AWESOME and fun in my opinion (as before you get regen2 and raise, but now you also get -na spells and SLEEP and DISPEL with near the magic skill of a BLM main, and also aspir and drain are powerful for the same reason, plus you can get ~150MP every time you need it with Sublimation). Phalanx, stoneskin, blink, gravity, stun, enfeebles and ice spikes would have been nice to have too, but just being able to sleep things so well as MNK is a huge change. Of course this sub is situational but it's different enough and fun (see details below in the MNK/SCH insert).
  • All other changes (BLU/DRK/WHM/BLM new spells, THF/SMN/WAR/SAM new JAs) are level 38+ so they can't be used from monk (aside for the MNK/NIN sneak spell).
  • Job balance: for some reason they buffed up jobs that didn't need to be buffed, SAM now can do self-3ws-Skillchains every 5 minutes with just the new 100TP WS and meditate (AND they get a further boost from the skillchain damage and resistance improvement), WAR was given basically a better counterstance than monk (seems to be just ~5%-10% counter but has no drawbacks aside from walking a bit slower while you use it, gives TP although you do get hit AND you can retaliate even counters from monks) which is a bit disturbing because I always thought of counters as a distinctive unique trait of monks, sort of our job specialty, and now SE gave better versions first to SAMs (they can counter WSs too) and then to WARs. On top of that, BLU can get counter trait without subbing MNK now just by setting 2 spells (asuran claw from gnoles and the old enervation)...
  • Small nerf for DRK 2H + BRD 2hr mode only: in the recent past SE added various things that increased attack speed from different angles, especially with 2Handed weapons. That allowed DRKs in particular to reach some impressive attack speed stacking them with bards 2hred march songs etc. SE put a slightly more reasonable cap to that in this update, changing the maximum haste or total delay reduction from all stacked sources to a total of ~80% haste instead of the previous 93% (basically DRKs with 2HR weapons now attack half as fast as they could before). Note that this ONLY affects DRKs using 2H with double soulvoiced march and does not affect MNKs in any way.
    Also it's not a huge deal for a few reasons: DRK can still do 2hr+souleater+krakenclub or some other multi-hit weapon since those don't rely on stacked source of haste. It only affects special situations like Kirin or Bahamut2 fights where DRKs rely on Bard's 2hr. Unless you have Bards using their 2hr and stack everything else on top of that, you won't see any difference (so even people with relic scythe will still get the most out of everything in normal non-brd2hr mode).
    For LSs, it means that DRKs will go back to valuing multihit weapons like kclub or mercurial things more than the very cheap runechopper, although they would still do fairly well with that too (half as good as pre-update unless they use kclub but that means what, people will need 45-60sec to kill Kirin instead of 30sec?)

    Now, I am not a DRK or WAR or SAM main so I just briefly covered what I think based on the little we know so far, mainly to address the job balance question. I am sure people can get a better feel for the actual implications in a bit more time and get a better idea than what I can say on day1...

    A few other minor things in the rest of the update: new equipment doesn't seem too interesting, two pieces from campaign points that are finally rare ex, if you wear both they give enhance counter but I have a bad feeling that it's something very weak (say counter+3 or something) because the corresponding PLD gear says "enhances all elemental resist" and only gives +5 to all elements which is pretty useless:
  • R/EX Cobra Unit mittens (Hands) Lv.68 MNK/THF/RNG/BLU/COR/PUP/DNC
    DEF:13 Accuracy+4 Enmity-3 "Store TP"+3 Set: Enhances "Counter" effect
  • R/EX Cobra Unit cap (Head) Lv.68 MNK/THF/RNG/BLU/COR/PUP/DNC
    DEF:22 Accuracy+4 Enmity-4 "Store TP"+2 Set: Enhances "Counter" effect
    Then there's something that could be cool for very rare situations against shock spikes or enthunder:
    DEF:7 HP-1% Ranged Accuracy+4 Evasion+4 Lightning damage: TP+10
    a single new crafted H2H (gnoles sainti) that's still much worse than destroyers (maybe it's ok for 60cap areas..)
    and an interesting club that has drain effect and very good stats but seems like it would be hard to get.
    everything else is even more useless from what I can see.

    There's a lottery item which could be interesting if it gives otherwise unobtainable items instead of something stupid like currency. NPC fellow changes might be good, should be nice to test out but I didn't get around that (especially if you can now give them aspir samba or at least cure-waltz them).

    New MNK/SCH looking good: a few quick tests:

    So as I mentioned above, the new changes have made /SCH a lot more interesting for monk, still situational but still great to have the option. Specifically as you might remember you could use light arts and dark arts to get the respective magic skills boosted to be on par with lvl75 mages, but there were no interesting spells to use them on aside from say stone2 (which would do less damage than the punches you could throw in the same time interval).

    Well that changed with the addition of addendum JAs, the white ones are ok, just all the -na you would get from whm, not a big deal since those wouldn't get resisted anyways. Still no enfeebling or enhancing unfortunately (phalanx and stoneskin with that skill level would have been great), but at least you get 2 black magic spells that are still very useful: SLEEP and DISPEL, with the comfort that they won't be resisted every time a monk casts them because of the high magic skill from the dark arts job ability.

    The same is true of Aspir and Drain (although you already had those). On top of that, you can basically get ~150MP back from the new (and safer) convert JA of scholars before you have time to spend that same MP, so you basically have infinite MP even if you are not fighting anything that could be aspir-ed and without having to use staff and spirittaker.
    Here are some examples: Drain for 243HP. And then sublimation JA for 154MP. Also note that melee damage doesn't necessarily suffer from using this subjob on easy monsters (see the 1242 dragon kick without any food):

    And here's an example of Sleep followed by Aspir for 103 MP and Dispel (sorry for the incredibly ugly turban, I didn't have much time and needed a quick MP gear), and another example of sleep showing the magic skill level given by dark arts (246 instead of the normal 101):

    Anyways, I might try to find something interesting to demonstrate what you could use MNK/SCH for in the near future.
    Small update: One thing I also tested briefly is vampiric claws added effect drain with dark arts, which went up from 5 normal and 15 with rdm sub to 40 which starts to be a bit more significant, especially if you needed to use vampiric claws anyways for something like slimes. I didn't test if the activation rate changed although it seemed the same as when I previously tested (1) so about 20% of attack rounds (or ~1 in 10 punches).
    Another thing of note is that now mnk75/sch37 has 2 stratagem charges and they recharge based on the level of the main job instead of the level of the subjob, so every 1 min.
    Whether this was intended or not, it doesn't have a big impact on mnk/sch, just because you already have more MP than you can spend with just spells from sub (so parsimony stratagem is not all that useful), and I generally just keep dark arts with addendum black on all the times so I only have to use it up once when I change zone.
    On the other hand I guess alacrity (stratagem that makes the next cast time half) could be useful to avoid interruptions on an important spell like sleep.

    EASIEST Solo BCNM battles any Monk can do:
    In my previous post I showed an example of what you can solo with sharp reactions, skill, a lot of strategy and great gear (e.g., the 6 scorpion BCNM operation desert storm as MNK/DNC).
    That's interesting to see but not as practically useful to everyone because it is admittedly a very difficult thing for people to try and imitate or put to practical use in their game.
    So in this post I thought I would add a quickly-put-together video showing two very easy BCNM-type battles that ANY monk can do easily without needing good gear, skills or experience.

    The first one is "Uninvited Guest", an uncapped BC-like quest rematch of a CoP battle that can be done with as many as 18 people and scales up accordingly. this one is very easy to solo (you need to farm 1 giant scale first but that's soloable too, or just wait by the jump point for people passing through it). It's very easy and can be done with any subjob at 75, and drops useful things like cloud evokers (used as a BCNM orb to fight ouryu and then bahamut2 with an alliance). You can redo it once a week and it gives random rewards including xp scrolls you can use on any job or various random items including things like adaman ores or assault breastplate.

    The second fight I show, the 50cap ENM "Pulling the Plug", is more for completeness (since it has been shown in videos many times already by various people) and to test and show that it is doable even with the worst possible gear (although of course it's even easier with better gear). It's an old recording of mine and I was also trying a few other things at the same time (like whether enthunder and shock spikes from charge items were worth using in these types of fights). It can be redone after 5 days. If you die you don't lose any XP so there is nothing to lose in trying (aside for food/items you would use), and if you win you always get 3000XP and a chance at a rare ring (toreador, acc+7).
    To try and put myself in the shoes of a new player with less gear and no merits, I tried to use the cheapest possible gear I had around or worse: my body was an aikido gi (only stat a basically useless VIT+4), TMHooks (free from signet points), purple belt (free from quest and people could even have a brown one by this level), and legs/hands that have just low defense and no extra stats on them. Anyways you get the picture (I think I had rajas on though as the only exception of good gear but not enough to make a difference). At first I tried to see if I could do it also without using any anima (again just as another test) but that was pushing it, so I actually ended up trying to use it anyways in the last 10seconds of the fight and won with very little HP left, so I definitely recommend people not do that (I was just trying to test/prove a point, no need to make your life harder on purpose).

    Anyways, here is the video:

    Btw, people who had their accounts hacked like the Bardok I mentioned in my previous post got it restored (aside from gil and sellable items) so that ended relatively well in the end.

  • Genome

    MNK75/DNC37 soloing KS30 BCNM Operation Desert Swarm (ODS)

    MNK75/DNC37 soloing KS30 BCNM Operation Desert Swarm (ODS)

    This entry will be mostly about /DNC subjob for monk again, just because it's new and something I've been playing around with a bit more recently.
    I'll answer a few questions and show a couple of videos I made:

  • How and when to choose between MNK/DNC, MNK/NIN, MNK/WAR or other subjobs
  • How to solo a KSNM30 with Monk (video).
  • How DNC/BST solo leveling feels like (video) and why /BST is better than other subjobs for soloing DNC at 30+.
  • More on why PLing is bad for new players and other misc stuff.

    When to use MNK/DNC:
    Dancer37 is a very nice subjob but other subjobs can still be more useful depending on the situation. For example you can solo some VT/IT very well with it, but for others /NIN can still be better.

    A good rule of thumb is looking at how fast you take damage with each hit/WS, if you take less than 200 damage every 3 seconds, especially in the form of multiple smaller attacks and moves that would go through shadows (e.g., imps, shock spikes on sea sharks, multiple easier monster, fleas etc), then you might be better off with /DNC.
    If instead you are fighting something that hits hard but infrequently, and with very strong moves that can be absorbed by shadows (for example the sea flowers Euvhi), then you'll do better as MNK/NIN.

    And of course all the other subjobs are still very useful, MNK/WAR for max damage especially in PTs (where you could get a better drain effect from a DNC main), etc.

    Soloing the 6 scorpion NMs in KS30 BCNM Operation Desert Swarm:
    I've been thinking of soloing some KS BCNMs for a few months, both to get rid of unused seals that were taking space (you get a lot when soloing), to uncap my xp a bit for a worthwhile cause, and as a chance to find a situation where MNK/DNC might be useful. But I've been kinda busy until a few days ago, when I finally found some time to plan my strategy and actually try it out.
    So here is a video I made of me soloing and winning that BCNM:
    I first thought of doing this particular one because I saw a very nice video of a Japanese PLD75/RDM37 (Miyuu) with 2 updated relics (Aegis and Excalibur) soloing it. Aside from the advantage of the two relics (Aegis helping a lot with damage absorption and Excalibur helping with the otherwise normally weak damage of PLD), PLD has a lot of strategic advantages going for it which unfortunately don't apply to Monk.

    For one thing, they have their own main enhancing magic skill, so the damage reduction from Phalanx and stoneskin is much greater than you could ever get with MNK (more than double). And that's not counting Protect4 and Shell3 (for the magic damage from monster WS moves like earth pounder), Cure4s and other JAs like Sentinel and Invincible. To top it off, PLD as many other jobs can wear some very useful enchantment items that monk can't wear, so they can get a free and decently strong 100% Ice Spikes effect that will paralyze all the attacking scorpions a lot (note MNK can wear rasetsu pants but it's a very low activation rate and strength in comparison and you have to keep them on and give up on byakko's haidate which would be a big sacrifice). The PLD with the two relics was able to use all those things to his/her own advantage.
    On a side note after soloing this KS I have an idea of what I would like for a new ability for monk, something like an AOE petrify for example would be quite nice (after all BLM can solo this just thanks to his repeated area of effect sleepga and thundaga3)...

    I also started looking at the data I collected during this try and plotting some values, here are some defensive stats, you can see I recovered over 10,000 HP (10K HP!) with TP dances alone.
    I might add more analysis here in this same post probably in the next ~week, so keep checking this post if you are interested in that.

    Anyways, since all that doesn't apply to MNK, I had to use a fairly different strategy and rely on some of MNK's strong points, evasion, counter, guard, high TP gain, and awesome well rounded gear like Kirin Osode.
    Also I didn't have anything to imitate or follow to come up with my own strategy, and there's probably a few things I might do a bit differently now based on the experience and data I collected, but part of the fun is trying to be first in coming up with and trying new strategies and new challenges.
    The scorpions become stronger and stronger as you kill more. Even their TP moves and attacks do much more damage.
    The two TP moves they do have a chance of either binding them for a few seconds or making them stop attacking for a few seconds.

    Part of the strategy I came up with was in giving them TP at different rates (sometimes fast and other times slow, to balance the large 6xWS damage I would suffer and the short bind/noDMG pauses I could take advantage of) and trying to separate the scorpions, among many other details like other gear swaps, JAs etc.

    People that do it with a normal setup of 6 lvl75 people or use -aga spells try to kill them at the same time have it easier in this respect, because they get kill to them basically in parallel and thus only fight the normal initial strength scorpions. Of course soloing as MNK I had to do it the harder way.
    The fight was not exactly smooth, it's NOT an easy solo BCNM (try it for yourself, especially if you're a big fan of just wearing just ATK gear, you will see how far that gets you hehe) unlike easier things like soloing ENM50 for a 0.01% chance at a toreador ring etc.
    In fact in that winning BC run I died and recovered twice, you can see where at the exploding transitions, I cut them out to keep the video a bit shorter (especially since each time the scorpions recover to full HP of course).
    The final drops were really bad, 24k Gil, and none of the good drops (just H.Q.Scorp.Shell, Raxa, etc, and I already had in moghouse an Anubis Knife, all the R/EX weapons etc so those just didn't show in the drops).
    But it was a very fun and challenging fight, I recommend every monk to try it for fun (you can get the good drops easily just by soloing NMs like Serket anyways, but that's not really any challenge, aside from getting the claim).

    A little more discussion (and video) on leveling subjobs with /BST (especially DNC/BST)
    I retired DNC as soon as I turned 37. I really like it as sub to MNK, but as main there are a lot of things I don't like about DNC, such as the extremely low melee damage potential.

    But I did record a few videos back then of me soloing as DNC/BST and I decided I should show one here to give people a better idea of how nice, relaxing and fast it can be to get xp with DNC/BST, even at 36-37.
    Granted, the higher the level the slower the XP tends to become, just because DNC becomes more well defined as a low damage class (more like a BRD) while monsters' HP becomes higher and higher.

    Still, you can get at least 5-7k xp/hr soloing xp chains of toughs with /BST and it can be very fun and relaxing (and you can log off or pick it back up instantly anytime).
    At this level already DNC does so little damage that your pet will now basically tank all the times, and your main goal is to just get TP and use it to enfeeble the monster more and more so that your pet can kill it faster (often you will charm just DC or at most EM since /BST is just a sub, and remember that there is an evasion and accuracy penalty for each level difference between two monsters, so those eva down and def down really help your pet do more damage).
    Here is the video:
    I had to speed it up because as I mentioned soloing as DNC gets pretty slow at 30+, and while /BST makes it 3-4times faster, it's still a bit slow overall. I show a few T fights making a chain2 (I stopped there because I turned 37 and had no reason to xp anymore), the camp I was using was starting to be a bit low for my level so I had to search around for monsters of the right level but it still worked well enough.

    Another small rant on how PLing is sad and is replacing player skill in FFXI:
    So I mentioned how I was disappointed to see how many people use lvl 75 "mules" to PL themselves when soloing instead of using good strategy and skill. As DNC I soloed all the way to 37. As SCH it's a bit more of a pain even with /BST so I actually took the risk and accepted a few random PT invites, so I got to see how bad PLing can be even in PTs...
    Now notice the fact that we had TWO level 75 WHMs to PL this PT (I am not sure who exactly set this up but these WHMs seemed to be normal players just helping someone they knew in the party rather than someone dualboxing).
    And yet the PT was so bad (low overall damage and a bad level spread). With TWO PLers we were making less than 5k/hr...

    I can make much more than that soloing, without having two WHMs 50 levels above me babysit us o.O.
    Just scroll up and compare my screenshot of my SOLO xp chain#4 of 420xp with this one with the TWO WHMs PL and just 270xp (notice I even had an xp ring active in this PT). And as I mentioned I was clocking the total xp/hr too and it never went over 5k even after we changed camp...

    And of course all these PLed PTs mean that more and more people will keep leveling up without any clue of what it takes to make a good PT or play well. Sometimes it's good for people in the long run to actually die and learn from their mistakes.

    Other misc stuff:
    A few other things I found interesting:
    Pixies are monsters that actually HELP players! It's kind of cool, they basically do almost the opposite of undeads, they sense people near them with low HP, and cast cures on them!

    Also on another note, I finally changed my Homepoint away from AlZabi back to Bastok.
    I had left it in Alzabi for so long because it was cool to have it in a place that was no longer a choice, but now there are NPCs that teleport you to Whitegate from any of the 3 cities for just 300gil, and that's much more convenient than the other way around using an imperial silver coin each time (also for using outposts).
    I also started to move back all my mules to their own towns since I can access their storage and local Auction Houses there, and then just pay 300g to go to Whitegate again and an extra silver coin if I need them in Jeuno (e.g., for lower tax etc). It might take me a while because while they all have mog lockers some don't have the NPC warper quest done.

    I also recently helped someone I knew who had quit and restarted FFXI with their cap55 quest, and soloing those 3 NMs was a bit nostalgic and fun, it's kinda clear they made those monsters to show off and magnify in the eyes of the lower capped players how strong a level 75 can be, making your damage on them so high and their spells and attacks on you so low:

    As a final note, someone I knew ingame on my server (Bardok) got their account hacked and stolen recently, from what I understand from that activeX hack-keylogger on somepage, which kinda sucks. It's easy to say people should be more careful with their security settings but you can't expect everyone to be computer savy all the times. Anyways that's another reason why it's so bad when people help RMTs or buy characters or gil or items from them, because if nobody ever bought them, dishonest people wouldn't have any incentive to do things like trying to hack into other people's accounts to try to steal them.
    WE're all going to stop plaing eventually, and there are already a lot of things in the game that I've not been interested in for a loong time, but hopefully most of us can quit on a nice note and on their own terms.
    Anyways Bardok, sorry to hear that, take care man.
    Oh and Happy new Year to everybody.

  • Genome

    Monk75/Dancer: Better than /NIN for soloing VT o.O (1500xp in < 8min, chain3+ ending with full HP)

    Monk/Dancer: Better than /NIN for soloing VT o.O
    I've been kinda busy recently, but I still managed to level my DNC subjob completely and test it a bit as MNK/DNC .
    I recorded a video of a few solo xp chains and I have to say it works out better than MNK/NIN for many situations.

    This was in part thanks to the fact that now BST is such a great subjob (now that your pet doesn't take xp away from you, you can choose to keep the same pet for hours if needed, or sacrifice it to spare you some tanking when you see a better choice). As usual, faster solo xp all the way to 37 and much better than risking bad frustrating PTs that take long to form and warm up and compete for the same 2-3 camps (people are not as creative as they could be when they make PTs).

    So today's entry will be about
    -testing MNK/DNC in practice in a hard solo xp situation (with a video) and also
    -giving some final tips on how to level DNC to 37.
    MNK/DNC video:
    So here is the video of me soloing as MNK/DNC, chaining VT imps.  I also picked imps because they are supposedly bad for DNC since their abrasive tartara move prevents you from using JAs or dances. As it turns out, it's not a huge problem, as long as you keep your HP up until they do it, you will have enough HP to finish the fight even without dances, and can recover a  few seconds after winning when it wears off.
    So here is the video I made.  I used the soundtrack from Bleach in case you are wondering about it (I tried to put it together quickly to make it more useful so it's not very polished).
    A few notes on MNK/DNC as you might notice from the video:
    The total xp I got was 1468 without any xp enhancements (aside from signet) in 8 min of fighting as MNK/DNC (so still about 11-12k/hr but more safely than with /nin and without the need for resting).
    Here I got chain3 but I would have easily gotten chain4-5 if I hadn't run out of nearby enemies.
    I omitted the first fight to make it shorter and just show the ones that chained after it, but it was an extra 322xp. 
  • Note 1: I didn't use any macro swaps and I used the menu for this video to make it clearer and easier to follow. Using macros however can improve your performance a lot (it's faster, more efficient and you can swap gear to strengthen each ability (e.g., CHR and VIT for cure waltzes etc) or to compensate for different situations (for example changing to evasion builds during amnesia etc).
  • Note 2: I also didn't really use much in terms of normal monk JAs or WSs just to show how easy it is to use MNK/DNC. But obviosuly those make it even easier and should be used, just like macros and gear-swaps.
  • Note 3: Somehow the en-drain effect from samba doesn't register if your hit animation happens while you dance. I would think this is a bug that might get fixed at some point, so I am not going to look into this in details.
  • Note 4: The drain effect changes based on delay, with H2H I get 7-13 (so using faster attacks like from hundredfists doesn't necessarily give you more drained HP). I'll test this in more details later perhaps.  
  • Note 5: Quickstep (lowers evasion and stacks up to 5 levels) and Boxstep (lowers defense and stacks up to 5 levels) had a very high success rate, i'd say something like 80%. Desparate Flourish (gravity and lower evasion, so good for both battle and running away/kiting) seems to have a lower success rate, maybe 50%, but still worked great.
    Conclusion: while abrasive tartara can be a little risky, i would say /DNC is actually safer and better than /NIN for solo xp situations like these imps, or monsters that have annoying moves that cause a lot of damage even through shadows, like Phuabos (the blue sharks/mantas in sea) which have shock spikes that do ~35 damage for every punch you throw.

    DNC/BST soloing tips to 37:
    The /BST sub is especially needed for DNC because DNC is incredibly weak in terms of damage. For example, this is the difference between one of my critical hits (25dmg) compared to a normal hit from a DC pet I charmed (55dmg):

    That's with the best dagger in the game for that level, and H2H actually does worse and attacks more slowly for that job (as opposed to how awesome mnk is with H2H).
    Anyways, to help people out who might still be leveling it, here is an approximate list of camps I soloed in to get it to 35 and some more screenshots. I chose camps that were if possible just 1 outpost warp away (at 10 you can go start using them, I think dunes is lvl 15). I think I did ome buburimu, maze of shakrami and dunes up to 19, also some korroloka tunnel up to something like 22ish, then some qufim island worms and pugils, and finally I just climbed up qufim tower (delkfutt) which was a great camp (the mid-levels lasted me until lvl 34, with plenty of goblins and gigas all for myself and plenty of bats at the right levels to use as pets). And with/bst sub I could handle massive links (4+ monsters) and make difficult pulls safely.

    I also got a little xp around other locations while doing things like chocobo digging (I might as well make use of my capped digging skill)

    After that I used lufaise meadows and misareaux, again just 1 outpost warp away from my moghouse and the auction house.
    Here's a few screenshots, with xp ring,

    and without:

    I also used a few xp scrolls and got some xp from besieged (I got full points even at level 32):

    That's it for this entry, I did a few other things like getting some maps, quests and missions done but they are nothing too special, I did find a use for those flee-charges-during-noncombat shoes though, they have some use in the past since you can't use chocobos and there is a lot of walking involved until you unlock all the teleport maws that connect to the present areas.

  • Genome

    Dancer and Scholar as Monk Subjobs + New Missions and Quests Rewards

    Dancer and Scholar as Monk Subjobs + New Missions and Quests Rewards
    I am writing this entry a bit in a hurry to get it ready while it's still more useful to people. I played around a bit with dancer and scholar in the couple of days since they have been added, and I have a decent idea of how they will play as subjobs to monk. I also added some tips on leveling them up and discuss briefly quests missions and rewards from them.
    MNK/SCH: Unfortunately, as sub for monk, scholar doesn't offer much, especially compared to other mage subs like WHM or RDM. All the cool unique SCH spells are above 37, and all the grimoire abilities (half cost or half casting speed) are not so useful given the spells available.
    It only has low level cure spells and damage spells, but no enfeebles and minimal enhancing. RDM and WHM make better subs in terms of spells (erase &-na spells, teleports, reraise, bar-/stoneskin/blink/phalanx, dispel, bio2/dia2, etc). The only plus side is regen2.

    MNK/DNC: This sub is more fun and practical. I didn't have much time to test it and I only got dancer to 18 in the couple of days since the expansion, but it definitely has its uses.
    Dancer is a lot like a sort of erasing/curing bard job (while ordinary bard is more about enhancing). Just like bard, it uses no MP and can't be interrupted, but the moves use TP (small amounts) and are more instantaneous, which just adds a bit of a delay until the next attack, more like a WS.
    Healing Waltz is like an erase/-na spell on a PT target.
    You also get a Drain Samba which is very nice as dancer main (drains for 4-8hp per punch at lvl 5-10 which is a lot at that level),

    but as main monk Drain Samba effect is half of that (just 2-4hp per punch) which is basically worthless at 75. You get a Drain Samba 2 as well which should be a bit stronger, but I think it'll still be too weak (since DNC main gets 4 levels of it before they get to 75).

    It is nice because it sticks as an enfeeble effect on the enemy for a few seconds, so everyone in the PT can drain with each attack for the same amount, plus it lasts on you for several minutes so you can keep re -sticking it on the enemy, and only costs 10TP. But that's kinda useless as a subjob since it would be so much better to use the one of a dancer main instead (drain samba3) if you are in a PT, and again if you are soloing it's still too weak.

    I was impressed by the Curing Waltz however. It restores 69 hp for 20TP as main dancer lvl 15, but it restores 100HP on my mnk75/dnc15 (it seems to be enhanced by VIT and CHR from the few swaps I did and 100 appears to be the cap). You get a higher level Curing Waltz as a subjob which appears to cure at least twice as much (so probalby at least 200hp for 35tp as mnk main). The recast is only a couple of seconds, I often couple it right before an asuran fist to minimize wasted tp and loss of punches.

    Updated from Nov. 25: I played a bit more with dancer and soloed it very quickly to lvl 25 (getting 300-480xp per kill it doesn't take long to level up).
    There are a few other very nice abilities for subjob use.

    Quickstep every 15 seconds reduces the enemy's evasion and stacks up to level 5 (usually I only got to stick 3 before they died). It works great with BST subjob for soloing, I basically charm a strong DC/EM pet, and then chain through Ts by lowering their evasion repeatedly until my pet can hit almost every time, using the provoke flourish move when my pet is low on HP (I have about +27 evasion in gear at level 25, plus an extra evasion bonus trait and capped parrying, so I take damage better than my pet).
    The Aspir Samba of course is useless for soloing as mnk/dnc since you have no spells.

    Spectral Jig is actually quite nice to have. It is a simultaneous sneak and invisible, but they are fairly short, usually they wear after just 30 seconds, but it's ready to be recast by then and it's free (no TP or MP cost), so it's still very nice to have. You can't recast it while it's active however just as for sneak, so you have to cancel it (at least the sneak part) before recasting and you can be detected at that point (differently from tonko which has a long fixed timer and can be recast right in front of an enemy without getting detected).
    The Divine Waltz is a curaga version of the Curing Waltz (works on the entire party for 40TP instead of 20TP on 1 target), and cures for basically the same amount. A party of 6 MNK/DNC swapping hate and spamming this curaga for 600HP every 15-20 seconds could be nice (swapping hate in order would be important to get the most out of this).

    Leveling up tips:
    I already have an entry on how to level up subjobs solo quickly (here). But since these jobs play a bit different and since a few things changed in the game mechanics since then, I will add a few tips here.
    I recommend mostly atk food, lower level ones give a bit extra atk but even the usual mitkabobs will work.

    For level 1-10, I recommend using /PUP, to get free dia, flash, range pulls, erase, extra melee damage (and enthunder), and after level 6 unlimited cures as well. Remember to dismiss and reactivate your pet every couple of levels so its stats and spells get updated.
    After a while the level difference with the PUP pet will become a bit more noticeable. At this point I found that switching to /BST subjob was great. Since a few updates ago having a bst pet no longer hurts your xp, so I charmed DC/EM pets and used them for extra damage and pulls.
    With dancer especially at level 15+ you can use 20tp (so every 2 swings) to cure about 1/3rd of your total HP, so staying alive is very easy, but doing damage faster is a bit more of the problem, but the pets take care of that and keep attacking while you dance. When a pet becomes uncharmed it's fairly easy for dancer to stay alive until it's recharmed, even while fighting a tough enemy at the same time (just spam waltz and charm).

    With that setup I got a lot of chain#4s on Toughs and even some VTs, which give a lot of xp, both without xp rings:

    and with them:

    Learn how to play, people!!: One thing I noticed a lot leveling up the new jobs is that a lot of people carry around a level 75 zombie mage (or a really bored and overly subservient person) to help them level up.
    The thing is, there is really no need for that if you know how to play! You can get the same xp/hr just by yourself with just a little skill.
    It's kind of a waste of people's time if it's a real person, and don't give me that "we are having fun together and talking", because you could both be leveling up new jobs.
    You don't get xp much faster than chain #5 solo, and while you could try to take on ITs with someone spamming high-level cures on you from outside, it would take you too long to kill it to be an efficient use of your time.
    I guess part of what I find concerning about this is that people level up without really learning how to play or seeing what works and what doesn't and adjust accordingly.
    At that point, you might as well do the trick of not xping at all and just going AFK as level 1 in an xp area, get your friends or servants to make a 5 person 75 melee-burn with your level 1 in it, and check back in 4 days when your character got from 1 to 75 by leeching all the XP., like some people have done...

    Quests and missions + Rewards:
    The missions and rewards so far are a bit disappointing. I mean they are really cool, and the new areas in the past look much better, but there is basically no reward for them. You can get some shoes that have 15 charges of a special variation of improved movement speed, but that is kinda useless because you basically can't use it in fights (it gets canceled if you get hit or attacked or you attack anything). So basically they are useful maybe to walk around town a little faster... and with all the teleports and ways to travel (chocobos, outposts, spells etc) I don't see much of a use for it. All the other rewards are not anything special and not really wearable by monk, except the cobra commando set which adds a minimal amount of INT, MND and mp (could be worth wearing for looks at best).
    There are two quests that give a deathstone and an angelstone respectively, which is useful for the new gobbiebag quests, but even those are already becoming reasonably priced again. The gobiebag quests are a nice increase, but I think people get confused and forget that each only adds 5 spaces, not 10, so you get 10 spaces total from both.
    This version update will give me something to do for a little bit, and I really like that pretty much everything is soloable and doable on your own schedule (so I don't have to rush through everything right away to avoid missing the boat), but it would have been nice to have some actual useful reward from all this.


    Most underestimated items for Monk (Shiva's claws, Lightning ring, etc) + Update & Expansion

    Most underestimated items for Monk (Shiva's claws, Lightning ring, etc) + Update & Expansion

    So in a few days there are finally going to be a lot of new things in this game, with the new Wings of the Goddess expansion. That should give me at least a little bit to do in-game again, like leveling the 2 new subjobs to 37 and doing the new missions. There were some announced changes to monk (possibly a JA that increases damage but lowers attack speed), but again not in the immediate future and they had mentioned changes to monk long ago as well and never implemented them yet (while other jobs like SMN, DRK, DRG etc already got multiple rounds of improvements).

    But, I still had some tests I had planned to post eventually, so I will do that here even though for a while probably everybody will be too worried with all the new content to care about anything else.
    I had also thought about making a post about counters, but with the new expansion who knows if some of that is going to change soon anyways, so I decided to postpone that...

    So instead, I decided to write on a few special monk items that are often greatly underestimated or not used properly.

    One group of really underestimated items are avatar rewards. I think these are underestimated because 1) they are free and 2) they are only really useful on a specific elemental day. Yet, on the corresponding day (so 1 every 8 hours) some can be the strongest item in its category.
    So for example, there's no reason to gimp yourself to 2 very expensive sniper+1 rings on lightningsday, when you could be wearing more accuracy than both of those rings combined with just one free lighting ring.
    Similarly it makes no sense for people to recommend an ATK earrings and not switch to fenrir's earring during the day.
    Also it's important to note that for many situations you can actually choose the day in which you do an important fight (e.g. BCNMs, soloing, special NM fights), and in other cases it takes very little effort to carry one or two extra items and put them on when it's the right day.

    Another great item in this set is Shiva's claws. These are hands down THE BEST enfeebling claws for monk (if used on iceday), and have many strategic and defensive uses. And yet I still hear people who have no clue on how to use them have low opinion of them. Yes, if you wanted to find the best claw for damage, you shouldn't use these, but there's a lot more to playing monk than doing damage in an xp PT.

    Here are a few tests to show what I mean, showing how effective they are in solo situations against both EP to 75 (spiders outside of whitegate) and VT to 75 (heraldic imps in the mire), and showing the huge difference between iceday and non-iceday activation rates (58% vs 6%).

    On the other hand, I tested vampiric claws a bit, their activation rate appeared to be about the same 20% of attack rounds regardless of the day (darksday, firesday etc), although the strength of the drain was a bit higher on darksday, and also increased slightly when using MNK/DRK (although again this is impractical for many situations) or RDM.

    The amound drained from EP was still very low in comparison, 13 on firesday (18 as MNK/DRK) and 15-17 on darksday. That and the low and unreliable activation rate means you can get maybe 40-50 HP drained total in each fight, in the time you could Chakra+Invigorate yourself for 600+ HP. So again vampiric claws are great for their unique slashing damage, but not really for their drain effect, which mostly just looks cool.

    About the update and expansion, a few notable changes that affect monk were:
    • Two new gobbiebag quests for a total 10 extra item spaces (currently overpriced materials)
    • 2 new subjobs: Dancer and Scholar were added (will they make useful/fun subjobs?).
    • 2-handed weapons boost from the previous updates has been reduced (bad news for SAM,DRK,DRG etc)
    • new food and gear (probably not much for monk as usual though).
    • THF got a new enmity steal move, WHM got a new sleep spell, BST got some enmity on jug pet move but all are above subjob level so not usable by monk ><.
    • other random changes like people entering your moghouse, guild crafting items and changes to the ebisu rod...

    And some other changes that are a welcome improvement and could eliminate the need for windower:
    • An official Windowed mode and macro books to swap between larger sets of macros (it would help to have more lines too).

    Recently I had very little left to do in the game, chocobo digging occasionally and just completing a few leftover rare/ex items for my monk, like the Flawless Ribbon I recently got (it's nice but I don't really recommend it unless you just have nothing left to use your coins or gil on like me). The intimidate and resist effects kick in very rarely, although they are fun to see every now and then:

    And that's all the topics I had for this post, I'll end with a gear combination that I think looks good (but doesn't have very good stats):


    Monk's Accuracy, Evasion, Elemental Resist + Examples from Prime Avatars Soloing + Pankration

    Monk's Accuracy, Evasion, Elemental Resist + Examples from Prime Avatars Soloing + Pankration
    Accuracy and evasion are probably the most important stats in the game. They can make the difference between winning and losing, especialy in solo activities.

    While adding something like 10atk might increase your damage by a few points of damage and finish a battle maybe a couple of seconds earlier, adding 10 evasion could be the difference between being able to sustain shadows until the recast is ready and survive indefinitely vs dying within a few rounds of attacks.

    Similarly, accuracy is not just about damage but again it might mean the difference between hitting and interrupting a big Thundaga3 spell directed on you or missing and dying a few seconds later from it, not to mention getting TP for a WS earlier and being able to unload AsuranFists or ShoulderTackle for similar results, or maintain a good MP balance on Monk through well spaced SpiritTakers.

    Tis post will address questions like:
    • How much accuracy and evasion should you have?
    • Exactly how much does adding X accuracy add to Monk's hit rate%?
    • Exactly how much does adding X evasion add to Monk's evasion rate%?
    • How does level difference affect evasion and accuracy?
    • How much acc+ does acc food give (counting caps) and how much hit rate% does it convert to?
    • How can you rederive/verify these things?
    • How useful is elemental resistance on armors when it's stacked up?
    • Exactly how much damage reduction does elemental resistance give?
    • Do these things really make such a big difference? (I'll show this by showing examples from my avatar primes soloing)
    • How do you use and time swaps to get the best of each stat ideal build?

    There might be some people who insist on ideas like "MNK is only a DD, all you want is attack, wear shura all the times, if you don't eat meat all the times you must be weak lolz and will never grow hair on your chest"... Again I have no idea why people hold this type of belief and why they are typically so opinionated and adamant about keeping it regardless of situations or evidence, I would guess that some people have just repeated this type of advice for too long and might care more about wanting to be right than about finding out how the game actually works. But it's important to notice if the only basis or support for a specific claim is based on "lolz, pwnd, everyone says so, that's gimp".

    People would waste a lot less time in pointless arguing if they:
    1. Did some tests to back up their points or when trying to debate other people's claims
    2. Actually figured out how much (or how little) of an improvement different choices give.
    As I said before people are more likely to disagree with each other when they phrase things as"EquipX>>>>>>EquipY", as opposed to "EquipX increases your damage by 1% on average over EquipY". At the very least this gives you an idea of how maybe there's no reason to argue too vigorously over something that others might find to be a fairly minor difference.

    Having said that, don't get me wrong, ATK is not a useless stat, and its best feature is that it's easy to add it in large amounts, as long as it doesn't interfere with adding other great stats like crit+, haste, double-attack etc.
    And if people like to think of playing monk as being entirely centered around XP and merit PTs you can do that, but that's really only a smalll portion of what you could be doing while playing monk.

    Anyways, given that it's one thing that has been added since the last update, I will also mention briefly here my thoughts on Pankration (which some people refer to as Pokemon due to some similarity with a japanese cartoon for children).
    My bottom line on it is that it's unfortunately fairly pointless, not too fun, and pretty much completely non-interactive, plus it's broken in many respects. There a little bit of strategy in choosing monster, skills etc but personally I find that only marginally interesting. It would have been nicer if you could control the monsters directly, maybe eventually use them outside like NPC fellows (that would have been awesome), and if you could use real-time strategy so that even with matching stats and abilities someone with better strategy and game-skills could always win.
    It's pointless because the only rewards in it are 3 rare-ex headgears that have only a use for taking pictures for pankration (that's much like the way I feel about chocobo races).
    It's broken because the level up system is very weird. You can get the same xp for losing as you do for winning, if you get a match against a high level monster you will get 100xp (half a level-up) just for losing, while the other monster will get pretty much nothing good from winning, so you have to hope to get matched up with monsters just below your level so you can win, or much higher so you can lose and get high xp from that.
    The 4 cages are still always too full, and you have to trade, press enter twice, then up, then enter in less than a second and faster than everyone else spamming and trying to do the same. Only the two people on the server that can do this the fastest will ever get a chance to do a match, this is repeated every couple of minutes. Why have a menu that defaults to "no, I am just kidding" if you press enter too many times? I can only imagine people made bots to do this already because it's just stupid and impossible to do it manually. It's slightly better now on non-peak hours so I got some matches in but still pretty stupid. Plus now my monster is 30 and keeps getting matched to level 9 monsters that give me just 5xp, then wait 40 min for the next match...
    The people that started very early at least can be in the Diablo cage which keep re-matching if you win, but unless your monster is level 50 there's basically no way to win, level difference makes a big big difference in these.
    Again a few things can be cool, some people have nice combinations of draining attack abilities or other things of the sort, but it just seems all pretty pointless atm, I am raising one up just in case they ever expand it to mean more or be more interactive but I am not very optimistic about that.

    Avatar Prime Soloing with Monk - Evasion and Elemental Resist at Work
    Since I didn't want the points of this entry to remain just abstract and academics, I thought I would show how they actually help in practice by showing how you can solo prime avatars with Monk by putting them into practice.
    So first the youtube video I made of me soloing Leviathan, which is the hardest avatar to solo (mostly because it can keep healing itself by a lot, making the fight much longer):
    People tend to assume that you need to be RDM or have /nin to solo avatar prime fights.
    I have seen some videos of monks semi-solo easy avatars like Ifrit but it always looked like a close call, using their 2hrs etc.
    So to make things more interesting I am showing an example of a harder avatar fight won without using any JAs or 2hr special abilities, without items and won without using ninja subjob, and still won with full HP at the end.
    And to make things even more challenging this is done without using punches as monk but just using staff (you could win a lot faster of course by alternating some punching with formless strikes, hundredfists other JAs, etc but I wanted to show there was no need for any of that).

    Details and analysis: Evasion is Awesome and Elemental Resist Swaps are too:
    Ok so the video is low-quality spedup a lot because I wanted to show the entire fight without skipping anything for completeness (some videos show a few seconds and skip around to only parts that look good, I wanted to avoid that).
    So here are a few screenshots to show in detail how I can solo them so easily.

    The first point is that avatars can do a lot of damage even to a lvl 75, especially without all the nice support of a PT or ninja shadows. If you are a clueless lvl 75 Monk who goes in with Shura, O.kote etc, you're probably in for a comedic death. Here's some examples of why:
    How much GrandFall did to me the one time I didn't use my elemental gear swap macro, 490DMG. You can see how this could be a problem, this is a TP move so it could do many if he gets TP from hitting you often.
    Leviathan hitting me for as high as 77 damage non-critical, again clearly you don't want to get hit often.
    The added effect from avatar primes can also get extremely high. 77 and 66 damage from added damage alone on top of each hit, again, better not to get hit.
    The added enfeebles of avatars especially from AoE moves can also be annoying and dangerous, especially for things like blink-tanking.

    The next point is that evasion is awesome. I only used my mid-level evasion gear swap macro (one that keeps on great gear like osode for all the additional offensive and defensive stats for example instead of sacrificing too much to try to get the very last extra points of evasion), but you can see the results already:
    Whenever you see a screen full of consecutive misses, you know you are doing something good. The best part is being able to cast without interruptions.
    More and more misses, I just had my pick of screenshots full of misses with evasion gear
    Again more and more misses, which means no damage taken and not giving TP from being hit.
    The evasion doesn't just help on normal hits, but also on TP moves. Here's Spinning Dive, it never connected in the whole fight with my evasion swaps.
    And even moves like Slowga can miss, again very desirable (note: this is probably due to the elemental resist gear since slowga should be a magic move differently from spinning dive).
    And here's another example of Slowga missing me, it's nice to be Monk :)

    Monk has other very useful traits on top of evasion, another reason why you don't necessarily want to go just all-out evasion:
    Offensive is still important, and critical hits are very nice to have, here's two of them in a row.
    Counters are great as well, especially since there is a cap of evasion, it's nice to alternate some counters when you are forced not to evade by the evasion cap.
    As I mentioned I used MNK/RDM with staff, one of the best things about this setup is having unlimited MP from Spirit Taker. For example here I got 142 MP back in 10 swings or less.
    With all that extra MP it's fun and wise to use up a few spells like barspells, stoneskin and blink to further reduce enemy TP gain and your HP loss.

    And what about Astral Flow and things like Elemental resists? Again having an elemental build resist swap ready pays off big time. The way elemental resist works is you get to resist damage increasingly in different tiers, with each tier making you take half as much damage as the previous one.
    So when you actually stack enough you can reduce the damage to 16 times less, for example a spell that would do 1600 dmg to you and possibly kill you can be reduced to just 100 dmg total.
    You already saw above the damage from GrandFall without elemental swaps was very high, 490 damage. Note that I had various partial stoneskin for many of these pictures, which makes the numbers vary a bit more. However the stoneskin cast as MNK/RDM is very weak, just about 150 or so.
    Again the trick is doing the swap right as you see the elemental magic attack coming, since some resist gear doesn't have very good stats for the rest of the fight.
    Here is showing the connection between the logs,
    And here is the result, 4 damage from the same move, GrandFall, going from dangerous move to completely harmless.
    I reduced every GrandFall in the fight to just 4-24 damage, Here's a 16dmg one.
    And a 24 damage one.
    And what about the Astral Flow, Tidal Wave? Again, swap right before,
    And it's not a big deal, 100 damage total here, and I got much lower on other avatar primes, 70 Judgement Bolt, etc.

    Accuracy and Evasion -> Hit% and Evasion%
    I mentioned before these stats are important, and they have a larger immediate impact on your performance than something like the same amount of ATK or DEF.

    Comparing Stats:
    Let's start with a claim and explain why that's the case. If you have to choose between 10 ACC or 10 ATK in non-capped ranges for example you should always pick the 10 ACC. Similarly if you have to choose between 10 EVA or 10 DEF in non-capped ranges for example you should always pick the 10 EVA.

    The first step in analyzing these types of claims as I mentioned is figuring out how much of a change we're talking about. How much does 10 ACC convert to in terms of your hit%? It turns out that is a simple question, Hit% changes 1% for each 2ACC you add or remove. So if you add 10ACC you actually change your Hit% by 5%.
    At this point it's easy to see how this is preferable to adding 10ATK. In a typical merit situation for example, say your Hit% was 85%, and assume your average per punch damage was even as low as 70, adding 10ATK would add about 2dmg to your average punch. This is less than a 3% increase in your total damage. in comparison the accuracy increase adds about 6% not even counting the additional improvement from the extra WSs.

    The damage increase difference of ACC over ATK is even higher when your Hit% is lower or your damage per punch is higher.
    For example again approximately to simplify things take Hit%=50 and average punch= 100, AccIncrease=(100*55%)/(100*50%)= 10%increase, whileAtkIncrease=(~102*50%)/(100*50%)= 2% increase.

    Checking Accuracy and Hit%
    So now have an idea of how to compare these stats.
    The next question is how do you verify this for yourself, and how do people know how much accuracy will result in a certain Hit% when an enemy's evasion can keep changing from monster to monster? Or how can you know how much accuracy something like focus adds for example?

    The answer to this is the /check command. While SE added a very vague response from this command, the answer changes at very specific differences between your accuracy and the enemy's evasion.
    You can keep a safe distance from a monster and then keep adding or removing different amounts of accuracy (you can get any number with various combinations of gear) until you find the exact amount of +ACC that makes a monster's check message change from high evasion to normal, and then from normal to low evasion.

    It turns out that the amount of ACC+ you have to add to go from one transition to the other is always fixed, which is what makes it possible to figure out all these results and conversions.

    When your total accuracy and the monster's total evasion are exactly the same, you are right in the normal region. Add 10 accuracy to that and the monster will check Low Evasion. Remove 30 accuracy from that original value and the monster will check as High Evasion. From those fixed points you can then repeat tests over and over under the same conditions and see that you have 60% Hit rate when you are exactly at the transition to High Evasion and 80% Hit rate at the transition to Low Evasion. From there you can verify all the other values, and see that your Hit% increases and decreases linearly by 10% for each 20ACC etc.
    It's a little more hairy since you need several tests to get accurate results as there's still some randomness added from the game on top of this, but it's not that hard to do at this point, just a little more tedious.

    From this it's also easy to verify that Focus adds exactly 20ACC without AF1 and 30ACC when AF1 head is swapped in. It's also how you can check the effect and caps of accuracy food.
    Accuracy from food
    One thing to note is that the accuracy increase from food like sushi is easily underestimated at a first glance from people. For example ask yourself this question:
    -Exactly how much accuracy increase and Hit% increase can you get from something like Bream Sushi for example?
    Well Bream Sushi is known to give a 16% increase in accuracy. What is that in terms of Hit% increase?
    And how much is that exactly compared to something like wearing a p.charm?
    The important thing to keep in mind is that accuracy increase is computed over your whole accuracy, which includes not only acc gear and DEX gear, but also base DEX and base accuracy from weapon combat skill.
    So the answer is that the 16% ACC increase from Bream Sushi actually adds about 27% to your total Hit rate. If your hit rate was relatively low like 60%, that is almost a 50% increase in your damage, and would bring you pretty close to the hit rate cap of 95%.
    And how does it compare to something like p.charm? On monk with decently high ACC build it adds about the same as 5-6 p.charms.
    Again you can verify all this fairly easily using /check.
    Also while food caps are a big issue with attack foods, they are practically non-existant (as in more or less unreachable) for monk+h2h on sushi with the notable exception of tentacle sushi.

    Of course the choice of food is still dependent on how close either ATK or hit rate is to its cap, if you are already at 90% accuracy it's a bit of a waste trying to add sushi which will only add effectively 5% Hit% instead of the 25%+ that is possible. And vice-versa for ATK.
    But the point I wanted to make clear is that it's important to understand why one food isn't always better than another.
    And if you compare sushi and meat in a situation where you can get the full effect of both, you are back to the question of +65ATK (especially if you don't have things like berserk) vs +55ACC, and again when you compare them in similar amounts picking ACC will give you much higher damage benefits than about the same amound of ATK, and increasingly so as your Hit% gets lower and damage per punch gets higher (you can work out the math for this for fun).

    Effect of Level Difference:
    The only other thing to mention is the effect of level difference, which gives a double advantage/penalty. For each level difference you are below your enemy you lose an extra 4 ACC and he gains an extra 4 ACC, and vice versa.
    That's often what makes fights much harder, you can see fighting something IT at 75, so say 8 levels higher than you means you will have a 32 ACC penalty (so -16% to your Hit rate), and evade 16% less compared to fighting an EM enemy, even before counting their normally higher base stats.

    Map of visitors - (I saw this in Lurka's LJ and wanted to try it)
    So here's testing it:
    Visitor Map
    Create your own visitor map!(Visitor list updates every 5 minutes. Map updates daily.)

    The August07 Update from a Monk's Point of View + ToAU End Mission + First Lieutenant Promotion

    The August07 Update from a Monk's Point of View + ToAU End Mission + First Lieutenant Promotion

    In two words, nothing really good... as usual. The update was a big boost for two-handed weapons of course which made jobs like SAM pretty happy, and they made other things easier for BST, COR, PUP, but again nothing really new for monks :(

    The update *changed* melee damage for H2H (and all one-hand weapons):
    What's REALLY annoying is that it looks like they changed the pDIF caps for H2H just weeks after I spent an entire post explaining damage equations..
    And even worse the change is not good, critical hits still get a max pDIF of 3, but your normal non-critical melee hits are now capped lower (so your max non-crit before this update was 152 because the max pDIF was 2.4, and it's now exactly 126 with lowered pDIF cap of just 2.0). The exact lookup regions from cRatio to pDIF are probably a bit different too, I haven't had time to look into it much, I just verified for myself that crits still give 189 but max non-crits are indeed lower than pre-update.
    Looking at the new graph from StudioGobli everything is the same in the lower part of the graph until you reach the new cap region, which is where you notice the difference. Unfortunately that's many situations including farming, xp with bard songs etc. Basically your attack stops having an effect earlier and on top of that your max non-crit damage is much lower, so if it was taking you 50 seconds to kill a farming monster with normal punches, now it will take you 60 seconds (regardless of how much atk or str you add). :(
    (NOTE: scratch that, I think it's actually a good thing, see discussion in "UPDATED data" below)
    Incidentally, this makes criticals even more important since they did not get capped lower and are now larger in proportion, but it's not much of a consolation...
    I still want to do a bit of my own testing to see what all the implications are, especially since it looks like the pDIF isn't a range anymore after it caps, and settles to about the average of the pre-update, which I guess might not make it as bad...

  • UPDATED data: I did a little testing on lower mobs and I actually LIKE this dmg change a LOT. Yes the damage caps at 126 which is lower than 152, but it's no longer a range. You hit for 126 EVERY single punch, and critical for 189 EVERY critical. Before sure you could hit a farming mob sometimes for 152, but you would also hit it sometimes for only 100, and the average would work out to be around 126. Now it's much more straightforward. Not only but it's so much EASIER to see when your attack is capped and adding more is useless, and to tell kicks apart from punches!!!

    Updated Data 2: I did more testing again, it looks like the way the new 2.0 pDIF cap is implemented is the damage is first computed in a range as before, and then truncated to 2.0 pDIF if it falls higher than that. That's actually good news because it means that the average is higher even in the slightly "nerfed" region. Basically:
  • below cRatio of 1.7 the damage is exactly as before.
  • From 1.7 to 2.3 your damage is a little lower than it used to be, at worst 5% less at exactly 2.0 cRatio and 0% less at 1.7 and 2.3. You also get a buff in your criticals average in those regions though to compensate, so the melee attacks are nerfed a little but your criticals now average higher.
  • At 2.3 cRatio or above your damage is buffed compared to the pre-update. You will hit for fixed damage on criticals too which didn't happen before the update (so 189,189,189,189,189 instead of 189,143,157,185,189)
    Updated Data 3: With the Sept.10,2007 update they fixed back damage to variable damage, but they raised either the pDIF or base damage, so now critical punches cap at 198 instead of 189, and even non-critical damage is raised to at least 155 or more max punches from the previous 151 max before all of these updates. So it's a buff overall to one-handed weapons but I will miss the nice constant damage, it would have made many tests so much easier...
    Changes to Dragon Kick and Howling Fist:
    Again here I didn't have much time to test for myself yet and thankfully there's some information on StudioGobli, basically the change is in the TP modifier of the two. At 100% Dragon Kick is the same and HowlingFist damage is now 166% stronger than before (so if you did 300dmg before now you will do 500dmg). At 300% Howling fist doesn't gain as much (only 20% more for waiting 200 more TP), while dragon kick is a bit higher than it used to at 300TP (16% more than before).
    That's basically it, making dragon kick still the WS to use if you stored 300TP and making howling fist more viable as a 100TP move. This again is because the TPModifiers for HowlingFist changed from (1.5, 2.5, 3) to (2.5,2.75,3) while the TPModifiers for DragonKick changed from (2, 2.5, 3) to (2, 2.75, 3.5).

    Moving on, as usual the new missions and quests were easily finished the same day of the update (I actually was busy and postponed it a few days later, but anyways they were still short)...

    Anyways, I'll try to cover most of the update changes here, specifically:
  • Staff changes for Monk
  • ToAU Final Mission Rewards
  • ToAU Final Missions - Strategy for Monk
  • MNK/PUP changes and the quest for the new WHM headframe for Monk with PUP subjob
  • First Lieutanant Promotion + some more trioable assaults for Monk

  • Staff - changes for Monk

    If you look really hard you can see a few changes can apply to us too, specifically Staff is a little more viable, although it's still mostly a way to get unlimited MP as MNK/mage. Only now the damage is higher and you can add some extra stats on top of that by using grips (all grips work, so a sword grip can be used with staff etc).
    Here is an example of what you get with one of the better new grips, platinum grip, which adds stun (very short and about 5% or less activation rate):

    As far as damage staff has improved, but it still feels too slow compared to punches. WS damage like retribution also improved but is still doesn't surpass asuran fists:

    So as I said it's a bit more viable but staff is still limited to special situations like unlimited mp with spirit takers (WSDamage=MPrecovered) and mage subjob or special fun effects like the very high added light damage of carbuncle's pole (this was pre-update):

    Updated data: The other big difference is the damage cap on weaker mobs works different now for staff (and 2H weapons in general). You already get a larger boost in accuracy and attack, an extra half point of ATK per TOTAL str (base and equipped) compared to 2h, and the same for DEX and accuracy. In addition to that, while punches as discussed cap at 126 and critical for 189, for staff (and 2H weapons) the normal damage can keep increasing until it caps at the same value as critical hits, which will not happen in most normal situations like XP etc (your atk would have to be 3x that of a monster, and the monster's def would have to be below 333 since atk caps at 999), but definitely helps compensate the slow delay of staff for farming.

    ToAU Final Mission - Rewards
    Mission REWARDS (!):
    These were a bit of a hard choice at first. Again just like at the end of CoP you get to choose only 1 of 3 rings. The 3 rings are for melee, mage and ranger this time. I chose to postpone because a ring with Refresh sounded more unique. However I would never want to do assaults as mage and the refresh only works there.
    The total rewards from ToAU are the 3 ring rewards, a banner for your moghouse, and a crown just for looks:

    Anyways I finally decided to get the melee ring since it is great inside assaults and looks good outside. The regen of course is only 1hp/tick unfortunately.

    ToAU Final Missions - Strategy for Monks
    The missions are as usual a set of cool CSs with in this case 2 BCNMs for a full PT (ToAU Missions 42 and 44) . They are both easy for monk with some good support, and I think a BLM helps on the second one since it's a bit melee-resistant, but it's not required. I did both with MNK,MNK,WAR,BRD,WHM,BLM.
    The first one is very easy as long as each melee solo a gear at the start (which is very easy for monk), and spreads out so people are not hit by multiple AoEs.

    After that the squidhead guy above is very easy and doesn't require any special strategy.

    The second BCNM is against a BLU that keeps reraising (3 times), and sometimes becomes immune to either physical or magic damage. When he becomes immune to physical damage, FormlessStrikes works very well.
    After that you fight Alexander, and it really makes you appreciate the +50Light resistance on Kirin's Osode. Every attack from this guy is light based. He casts Mega-Holy (AoE light), BanishgaIII (AoE light), Radiant Sacrament (AoE light), you get the idea. He hits hard so MNK/NIN is still best, light carol can also help. He also uses a strong 2hr twice (maybe around 50% and 5%), which is again AoE light and again Kirin's Osode reduces its damage (something like 1200 without it and 800 with it).
    It is also fairly melee resistant.

    If you spread out enough you can have the normal AoEs hit just 1 or 2 people at the same time, but it's still difficult and at one point I was left solo-tanking this guy for a good 5+ minutes with just the WHM and weakened BRD keeping me alive. What's worse is that this guy cures himself for about 1000 hp at a time pretty frequently, so me being the only damage it kept going back and forth between 18% and 23%.

    Eventually I got hit by terror while the WHM was out of MP, but if you raise far enough you can recover without getting attacked, and he doesn't keep curing himself when nobody is attacking him.
    After that we waited until we were unweakened and just finished that last 18% quickly and easily.

    Some nice end-mission-cs pictures in a LJ-cut:

    New MNK/PUP pet AI and behavior, a reason to hit PUP 40?
    Some of the new changes to PUP make it a bit more viable as a subjob to monk, there are situations like guard skillup for example where you don't want to use shadows and need cures, and it's nicer to have a separate pet cure you without getting interrupted and with the refresh and convert abilities it has to keep its own MP up.
    They also added 2 new headgears, one to make the pet more like a BLM and the other to make it more like a WHM.
    Since I would only ever use it as a fun subjob to monk, I am only interested in the WHM headgear (cures are always useful while low level offensive magic is mostly useless in comparison). The problem is that you need PUP40 to obtain it.
    So I decided to break my rule of not leveling anything past 37 a little again and got PUP from 37 to 40 in a day.
    PUP 37 -> 40 solo/duo/ENM/Scrolls
    I only saw between 0 and 2 XP PTs at that level on the server at any time which was a little discouraging, so I got most of my XP from solo, a little duo, and through xp scrolls and ENMs:



    The base stats for PUP feel so weak in comparison to MNK, and I was always surprised whenever I couldn't hold hate well in duo or even against my pet. The pet however is great, specifically the new fast casting coupled with convert and the new AI made it cast alternating Cure3s and Cure2s back to back, converting and then cure3 on himself, much more like a real RDM.
    At 39 I could wear my Vampiric Claws which was very nice (notice the 20 Drain):

    Also at 40 I could use Raging Fists because of my H2H merits (and mnk sub):

    I turned in a scroll of Cure5 and a white turban and got the white mage pet headgear back, which will allow it to cast regen and curaga and some status removal spells (although the rdm head with its fast cast time is still very tempting and might end up more useful for mnk/pup).

    First Lieutenant Promotion and some more Assaults

    After trying to farm the Azure experiment assault for far too long without any results I tried to trio a few new assaults (ok not so new, just CS rank that I didn't try to trio yet):

  • Operation Snake-Eye: This one was very straightforward, just kill a few lamia NMs, avoid charm by belly dance by turning around as soon as you see it, and take care not to completely kill the charmed general. Everything is easy to tank as monk/nin.
  • Deserter:A weird assault, easy to win but hard to get too many points in. You need to get lamia NMs to surrender, which happens apparently at random with enough criticals. One is enough to win but more give more points. For this you want to lower your damage (so take off atk etc) so you don't kill them before they surrender. Instead load up on DEX for extra chances of critical and use something like backhand blow for lower damage and critical wss.
  • Egg Conservation: This one was a little more challenging but still definitely easy to trio, the important thing to remember is to pull the qirins in and have as many as the male apkallu agro them while you fight them.
    I'll have to wait for some people to get promoted before trying the newest rank ones, but at least the promotion quest was pretty fun, aside for the forced wait time in between stages.

  • Fun screenshot
    This was a DRK testing the changes in 2H weapons who got a bit careless. I helped him by finding a WHM to raise3 him, the funny part is the title he has matched his current condition... o.O

    [Until Next Time]