Final Catbards, or Greener Grass

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I’m on a little bit of an unintentional WoW vacation.  After being disenchanted with the community and the game for a bit, I picked up Final Fantasy XIV to play with a friend.  Bards are my favorite class in every game, and FFXIV has them!  I rolled a little catboy archer to play with my friend, and I’ve recently, after four months of playing off and on, hit level cap.

But I’ve noticed a few things about this game.

The Good, the Bad, and the Bardly

ffxiv_07082014_153254

Every game will have its roadblocks.  Some players will find FFXIV to be a bit “grindy”.  But, playing to current level cap, 50, I’ve noticed some things that I like and some things that don’t work too well.

The Good:

  • Dungeons are unlocked through quests, making them feel more like they have a place in the overall story.
  • An incentive system to give reason to be supportive to other players (more on that in a moment)
  • Interesting class system nearly eliminates the need for alts
  • Amazing graphics
  • Great storyline that feels like a Final Fantasy game
  • Starter gear set for each job with pieces at levels 45 and 50
  • Numerous class quests that feel meaningful
  • World travel is easy and much quicker than flight points- less time spent on travel and more time actually out interacting with the world.
  • My server, Balmung, is very welcoming to RP (to the point that it’s branded an unofficial RP server- there are no officially designated RP servers).
  • Bards (this deserves its own bullet point)

The Bad:

  • Subscription-based, I know some people don’t care for that.
  • Dungeon attunements (I like them)
  • Levels 46-50 are a grindfest
  • I couldn’t play for nearly a month because the graphics caused my computer to overheat- I needed a better cooling system (so not so good for less beefy systems).

Leveling was easy until around level 35- generally just doing dungeons and the main storyline quests (and class quests) got me there, and then things got a little bumpy and I had to turn to grinding repeatable quests to finish some levels, and almost entirely those from 46-49.

The storyline itself felt like a traditional Final Fantasy game, with your character as the main character.  Many standard Final Fantasy elements made an appearance (Ifrit and other summons, an airship, this game has a Cid, classes and monsters).

Classes and Jobs are extremely interesting in this game- one character can essentially be every class in the game.  Changing classes is like changing specs in WoW, with the main drawback that when you change classes, you must re-level it.  So on my level 50 bard, I could swap to White Mage and have to start over and level from 1-50, with the ability to swap back to my bard at level 50 any time.  There’s a bonus to leveling other classes- some class spells and abilities can be used cross-class (mainly things like cooldowns).

Really, the only reason I’ve rolled any alts at all is because I want different characters for RP.

Fostering a Supportive Playerbase

Imagine walking into LFR and being welcomed for never having done the instance before.  That was nearly what happened to me last night when I went into an 8-player instance for the storyline.

newbies

The main difference here is that Final Fantasy will detect when someone in the instance group has never completed it and grant a bonus reward.  This happens even in leveling dungeons: groups with people new to the instance will get bonus EXP for a clear.  In endgame content, it’s bonus gear currency.  It would be like, instead of getting 90VP for a wing of LFR, you got 270 for a clear.  New people are seen as less of a detriment, and more of someone you’re rewarded for helping.

And that’s not the only thing, there’s also a system that, after every instance, you can grant a commendation to a player that left a good impression.  Maybe it was someone who was helpful and nice.  Maybe it was someone who did hella DPS.  Maybe it was just a healer who healed you when you stood in bad.

Commendations give cosmetic rewards- things used to decorate your mount, a pet, a title, even a mount.

working on my hat for my chocobo

The difference here is that, instead of dungeon debuffs or votekicks that punish people for not playing “nice”, there is incentive to be decent to each other.  Positive reinforcement -vs- negative.  And I’ve found that makes a lot of difference.

 Is the Grass Greener?

I’m not saying I’m quitting WoW, but I am enjoying Final Fantasy XIV much more, right now.  The graphics are amazing, and I’ve found a really good group to play with.  Plus, I get to be a bard!  Sometimes you just need a change of pace, and maybe FFXIV is that for me.

Plus, they’re adding a marriage system in an upcoming patch that will allow same-sex couples, which is a fair bit better than WoW is doing on that front (not as good as Wildstar, admittedly).  I’m looking forward to playing the endgame and beyond!

ffxiv_07152014_155636

Building a Better Gladiator

In Warlords, Protection Warriors will have a special level 100 talent, Gladiator’s Resolve.

talent

Tooltip from Wowhead.com!

 

And, for reference, Shield Charge:

charge

Tooltip from Wowhead.com!

Now, these are cool, and I’m really excited about this.  I’ve recently swapped to playing my warrior more than my monk, and I enjoy PvP on my warrior.  My PvE spec is protection, and I’m very excited to be able to be Prot/Prot in Warlords, but I forsee some balancing issues with Gladiator’s Resolve.

 Balancing Problems

I predict that we’ll see quite a few people trying out Gladiators in PvP (I know I will be), and the problems there lie in that aside from shield block, a Gladiator has access to a protection warrior’s full toolkit, as well as being able to swap into defensive stance to reduce damage when picking up a flag or things like that.  Additionally, Gladiators will have access to Shield Barrier to allow them to be a highly defensive spec even while in Gladiator Stance.

As a DPS spec, there won’t be as many balancing issues in PvE.  Vengeance will be a nice bonus to PvE play, but this is non-existent in PvP.  Also, in PvP, tank-specced players take additional damage, something that @Holinka on Twitter has offered may not be an issue for Gladiators- but that still brings up the issue that you can still play defensively by swapping stances.  Also, Mastery will be a completely useless stat for Gladiators.

Granted, all of this is mostly what I’m predicting- I don’t have beta access at the moment and can’t actually test any of this out, nor do I know anyone who is playing with Gladiator’s Resolve on the beta/alpha.

The main issue right now is that Gladiators are a spec that will either need to be broken for PvP- taking additional damage for being Protection-specced- or will be a constant work in progress to balance them throughout the expansion.

Building a Better Gladiator

My suggestion is very simple at the core, but will be a bit of an undertaking:  make Gladiator a completely separate specialization from Protection.  Borrow things from Protection and the DPS specs, but flesh them out completely.  Force the fact that you can play either defensively or offensively, and make that a conscious choice.

Main stats:  Crit, Multistrike, Mastery (Multistrike Attunement)

Mastery: Increases the damage you do with shields by x% (this is a very simple suggestion.  Another one would possibly be a Mastery that grants something like Deep Wounds- making your special attacks cause a bleed.)

Main Skills: Shield Slam, Shield Charge, Revenge, Devastate, Talented Abilities (Storm Bolt, Bladestorm, etc).

Remove Shield Barrier, Shield Wall, and Last Stand for Gladiators, keep Blood Craze and Riposte (these will need to be balanced) to allow for some survival.  Change abilities like Demoralizing Shout and Spell Reflection to cost rage, making it a conscious decision to either play offensively and use rage to attack, or play defensively.  Give back Rallying Cry, or in its place, a different cooldown- one that grants either crit or multistrike to party and raid members.

Add a new DPS cooldown or change Recklessness to grant crit percentage, allowing it to be used akin to a mix of Recklessness and Die by the Sword.

In Closing

I’ll be testing Gladiators once I get beta access, and fully expect them to be difficult to balance in PvP unless the spec is separated from Protection.  My suggestion to allow for easier balancing is to make them a fourth Warrior specialization, one that is a more dedicated DPS spec with some defensive abilities that require making a conscious decision between defensive and offensive play.

Dee’s Quick and Dirty Windwalker Guide

So I’ve got this time at the end of an expansion, and you’ve got this new class you want to try out, but where to start?  This is a simple Windwalker DPS guide.  I am by no means an expert in this, but I have a very rough idea of how do.

Third post in a row I’ve used this in hahah I win

The Basics

Windwalkers use two resources- energy and chi.  Energy is mainly consumed by the ability Jab, and this generates chi:

Jab will mainly be used to generate chi for your other attacks.  You will be hitting this button a lot!  You can also use Expel Harm to heal yourself and generate the same amount of chi.

There are four main chi consuming abilities: Tiger Palm, Fists of Fury, Rising Sun Kick, and Blackout Kick.

Okay, I know, tooltips are great, but the key things there are- Tiger Palm grants you a buff that lets your attacks ignore 30% of an opponent’s armor.  Rising Sun Kick puts a debuff on the target that causes them to take 20% more damage from your abilities.

The basic priority is this:

  1.  Jab/Expel Harm to generate Chi.
  2.  Tiger Palm for the buff- keep this buff up at all times.
  3.  Rising Sun Kick on cooldown.
  4. Your level 30 talent (Chi Wave).
  5.  Fists of Fury on cooldown.
  6.  Fill in with Blackout Kick.

There are a few other things to watch out for.  In an AoE situations, use Rushing Jade Wind (I’ll cover that next!) or Spinning Crane Kick.

BUT WHY ARE MY BUTTONS LIGHTING UP

You have four abilities that will light up- Tiger Palm, Blackout Kick, Tigerseye Brew, and Touch of Death.

Tiger Palm and Blackout kick will even put a little aura around your character (the blue things, below):

To the left- the green bar tracks my Tiger Palm, and the dots track my chi. I’m using a horribly outdated RealUI.

When these light up, that just means that you can use that ability without using any chi!  YOU GET A TIGER PALM.  YOU GET A TIGER PALM.  You get the idea.  It’s best to use these quick- they don’t stack more than once, so use it before it can show up again and refresh itself.

Of the other two abilities, the one that is a little trickest to understand is Tigerseye Brew:

You want to use this when you have 10 stacks, mostly.  It can go up to 20, and that’s when it will light up.  To really maximize how you use this, you’ll want to line it up when you can use a good burst of DPS- small burn phases, especially.  Otherwise, just use it at ten stacks.

Touch of Death can be very useful when soloing and questing, and on fights where there are adds (like Immerseus).

 Cooldowns?????

Most Windwalker cooldowns are utility cooldowns, aside from if you talent into Invoke Xuen at level 90.  The main one to start using is Energizing Brew when you find yourself starved for energy and need to generate chi.  Fortifying Brew is good to keep handy.

There aren’t any magic burst DPS buttons for monks, though.  Our DPS is generally pretty even over the course of a fight.

TALENTS

I don’t want this section to run too long, but I’ve put the talents I recommend in little boxes here:

Levels 15, 60, and 75 are mostly up to what you think would fit in best with your playstyle and what you need to bring to a fight.  For example, on a fight like Iron Juggernaut, I’d recommend taking Dampen Harm so you can help with mines.  If you’re just doing LFR or something, though, you can probably do just fine with anything in these tiers.

Levels 30, 45, and 90 I do have recommended talents for!

At level 30, I highly suggest Chi Wave.  It is a short cooldown that can also be used for burst healing if you’re doing things like soloing elites (against these, will will bounce all 7 times).

At level 45, I recommend either Ascension or Chi Brew.  I personally like Ascension because I have a bad habit of sometimes hitting jab one too many times, but your mileage may vary!

At level 90, I recommend either Rushing Jade Wind or Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger.  Rushing Jade Wind is better for heavy AoE situations, but Xuen also does some AoE damage.  I’ll admit that I take Xuen entirely because I like having a battle tiger with me, I’m not going to lie.  If you pick him, be sure to use it on cooldown.

Storm, Earth, and Fire

Storm, Earth, and Fire is something that I’m just starting to master, myself.  It’s a very useful ability for fights where there are multiple targets.  Only use this when there are two or more targets- if you attack the same target as your clone, it will no longer copy your attacks and just autoattack.  A good example for a use of this would be to use this on a fight like Nazgrim where there are adds but you would benefit from splitting your DPS.  If you use them, make SURE that you use tiger palm before summoning the copies so that they can benefit from the buff.  To cancel them, you just target their target, and use the ability again.

Putting it all together

So, following along with me, your single-target priority is like this:

  1.  Jab/Expel Harm to generate Chi.
  2.  Tiger Palm for the buff- keep this buff up at all times.
  3.  Rising Sun Kick on cooldown.
  4. Your level 30 talent (Chi Wave).
  5.  Fists of Fury on cooldown.
  6.  Fill in with Blackout Kick.
  7. Use Tigerseye Brew at 10 stacks

 

A very basic AoE priority is like this:

  1. Tiger Palm
  2. Rushing Jade Wind/Spinning Crane Kick
  3. Rising Sun Kick

And with multiple targets, you use the same lists as above, but use Storm, Earth, and Fire on different targets to spread your DPS.

STATS???????

Your stat priority is simple and follows:

Hit to 7.5% = Expertise at 7.5% > Haste to roughly 6k > Crit > Mastery

That is, cap out hit and expertise at 7.5%.

You’ll want 5-7k haste.  The goal with haste is that you have enough energy to always either use a chi-consuming attack, or to generate chi.  Depending on talents (like Ascension), you might be able to get away with closer to 5k.

After that, you’ll want to prioritize crit over mastery.

this guide needs more pictures.

GLYPHS??????

Most of the monk glyphs are largely utility-based, but I find Glyph of Spinning Crane Kick useful.  I also consider Glyph of Zen Flight to be mandatory on my monks.  Glyph of Blackout Kick can be a DPS increase- but will prevent Blackout Kick from healing you, which is really useful while questing or fighting elites.  I personally like Glyph of Afterlife, myself, but I encourage you to figure out which ones work best for you!

OKAY STOP MONKS

And that’s it!  Like I said, it’s no means an exhaustive guide, but at least you’ll have a rough idea of what to do in LFR and on the Timeless Isle!  Feel free to talk to me on Twitter at @hellabard or leave comments or corrections here!

Dee’s Guide to Gearing and Getting Mad About A New Character

now with more recycled content!

 

Congrats, you’re level 90!  You’re almost ready to step into LFR!  But first, there’s a little bit of work to do.  Mosey on over to the AH with a bit of gold, ask guildmates for help, or pick from your alts that have been leveled and abandoned (just me?).

Gear to obtain at level 90:

502 Boots

476 chest and gloves

458 PvP Gear

Ghost Iron Dragonling (with appropriate cogwheels)

Getting the boots involves two scenarios and a little bit of questing, but are very worth it!  You will also get valor and loot chances from these two secnarios, even though I very, very highly recommend you specific queue for them.

By this point, you should be near 460.  Buy JP rings and necklace if you have the JP for it.

The next step is to run scenarios, which can give 463 gear (and 476, if you’re lucky).  Also, target specific heroic dungeons- if it has more than 2 pieces of gear for you, it might be with it to run it.  Your first goal is 460.  Unlock the Isle of Thunder before this and try to find a Key to the Palace of Lei Shen- I usually find them from the golden chests that can be found and looted once a week, or from rares on the island.  Try to open as many chests as possible to get Elder Charms of Good Fortune!  Also do dailies, if you can.  The solo scenarios on the island give a good bit of rep, and the Supermarket Sweep scenario can help with that, as well.  At Friendly, a 476 belt is available for a little gold.

Now that’s done, and you hopefully have some elder charms, it’s time to hit LFR!  Do all of Mogu’shan Vaults.  If you get lucky, you might be able to skip more scenarios and heroics.  Use charms only on bosses that have more than a few pieces of gear for you- don’t worry if it’s not perfectly itemized, right now.

Your next goal is 470- get to there, and then run Heart of Fear and Terrace of the Endless Spring LFR, using charms as you did in Mogu’shan.

and sometimes senpai will notice you and go with you.

Now that LFR is done for the week, it’s time to start on the Barrens.  What piece of gear do you need the most?  Focus on replacing your lowest item level pieces of gear, first and foremost.  If you’re on a larger server, this might be a bit easier with people killing commanders.

Your next goal is 480, and this is the most lengthy part.  Try and kill Oondasta and Nalak by this time, if you can!  Unfortunately, if you didn’t have any luck in LFR, there isn’t much you can do at this point.  Try and replace what you can with gear from heroics, but don’t spend your VP just yet, unless it will bump you to 480.

Once you hit 480, you can now run heroic scenarios and Throne of Thunder LFR!  Your first heroic scenario will award you a guaranteed 516 piece of gear.  Afterward, each daily heroic scenario will give a chest with a chance at a 516.  I try to run these daily- they’re quick and good for VP, as well.  The only downside is that you have to have a group of three to queue for them, but you can use RealID groups!

And that’s really my entire secret.  I’ve been level 90 for less than two weeks, and I hit ilevel 500 today.  It just takes work!

In Closing

You’ve Reached Level 90

this is basically a summary of this post.

I made a post back in March about my new project, my monk.  A lot has happened since then!  I leveled Kirian, my blood elf mage, shuffled some characters around, and focused on my priest as my raiding main.  And then school got a little busy, I got really into RP again, and I cut back on my raiding by a fair bit.  I played my Pandaren mage a bit, too, but mostly it felt like treading water.

I started my monk…I’m not sure when.  I had a Pandaren at first, deleted her, rolled a blood elf monk, and then rolled Yeong, my night elf.  Yeong and my blood elf, Dawningsun, both had a strange habit- they’d hit around 40, I’d look at the dungeon finder and just go “ugh”.

But this time, I was determined.  I sat down eventually and ground out to level 80 one day, via pet battles.

that was a good day.

I was ready to tackle Cataclysm.  For the…tenth time or so.

In the other post, I talked about finding a cool dragon and punching it in the head a lot, which was cool.  I also tanked, and found I was enjoying myself a lot.  Cataclysm content will always be familiar to me, and going through those dungeons, while monotonous sometimes, is comfortable to me.

I hit level 85, ran over to Pandaria, and…

And then nothing happened!  I got carted to the Shrine, logged out, and didn’t log back in for a few months.

I was at level 86 when I logged back in on my monk a few weeks ago, and had a boatload of rested experience.  I killed a few rares, quested a little, leveled professions, and suddenly, I had an idea.

I’m acquaintances with a roleplayer over on Moon Guard who has a High Elf character that she plays using human as her in-game race.  I just happened to have a High Elf, myself, who I had written a fair bit about with my GM.  He’s Ryel Dawningsun, Kirian’s silly cousin.  His character is a subject for another post, but I HAD A PLAN.

I went to 90 on Yeong, and began the process of gearing.  I’m happily sitting at a 490 item level right now, after being level 90 for five days.

And my monk, well, I found him a transmog that was fitting.

I was feeling a bit better about tanking again.  It felt good, felt right.  I’m not the best Brewmaster, but I’m not awful, either, and I’m enjoying myself.  I’d really love to finish up the legendary questline and get the cloak in 5.4.

I might not be raid tanking again, not in normal-modes, but I’m enjoying dragging my squishy self into scenarios and LFR.  And maybe that’s enough for me, for now.

Dee goes on a podcast!

As I had discussed on Twitter and Plurk, I was invited to the Twisted Nether Blogcast, and the episode is now up for listening!  It was recorded on Sunday, May 19th, and quite a few people turned out to hang in the chatroom and listen to the podcast live.

You can find the episode here!

It was extremely humbling that people came out and listened to me babble about writing stories.  Many thanks to everyone who was there, and to the people who are listening to this now that it is up.  It really does mean a lot, more than I can adequately express in words.  I am thankful to each and every one of you.

My initial reaction to this podcast was “why would they pick me, of all people”.  Up until the moment we started recording, I was waiting for something to go horribly wrong- maybe they would forget to add me on Skype, or cancel the show.  I expected that maybe one or two people would show up to listen in…I’m still, frankly, a bit shocked that at one point, we had nearly twenty people listening.  Many were from Twitter, or were friends that I roleplay with.

Suffice it to say that this podcast is getting saved and stored somewhere for me to look back at when I’m having a rough day.  I’ll keep it with me, even after I’ve undoubtedly moved on from the Warcraft fandom years down the road.

There were many things I’d liked to have discussed, but we wound up filling up the entire hour, much to my surprise!  Perhaps I’ll keep those thoughts for future posts.

Links

I wanted to use this post to link to some of the things that were discussed in the podcast!

  • Firstly, I now have a contact page, because Hydra (one of the hosts) was unsure of how to contact me, initially.
  • I also have a page that serves as a rough table of contents for my stories.  Starting with the oldest, timeline-wise, it is grouped roughly by timeline and by main character.
  • My characters page has been updated to include links out to my current Dreamwidth roleplay accounts.

Dreamwidth

As I mentioned in the podcast, the majority of my roleplay happens over on Dreamwidth.org, which is heavily based off of the old Livejournal site design.  There is a large roleplay community here, and many different writing games that are run through the site.  It may seem daunting at first, but it’s not too bad once you get the basics!  A basic account is free, though you can pay roughly $3 a month for other features, like extra icon spaces (free accounts have 15 icon spaces).

The general idea is that you create a journal account for your character, and then use that account to leave in-character comments to other characters on the roleplay communities.  Many people play characters that are NPCs (such as me playing Thassarian or someone else playing Anduin Wrynn) or characters that are established in a canon (video game, movie, book, etc), but original characters are also quite common!

If you’d like any information about Dreamwidth, or need any help stepping in, feel free to drop me an email or an instant message.  I’d be happy to help!

 

In conclusion

Thank you, again, to everyone.  I look forward to writing more fanfiction in the future, and hopefully you’ll be interested in reading it!

Fic- Kings

Future AU!  King Anduin and Earthwarder Wrathion.  I might write more in the AU, but I wanted to get the basics down.  This is set about 8 years post-Pandaria?  VARIAN DIED.  ANDUIN IS KING.  THRALL IS DEAD.  Not that it’s really mentioned.  They’re a little more comfy with each other augh sorry if it seems OOC friendly.

1267 words.  Might add more, IDK.  Uncertain about shipping stuff, so this is basically just gen fic.  Might add shipping stuff if I write more in it I DON’T KNOW.

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