Apologies to J. R. R. Tolkien for mangling “There and Back Again” for this post’s title.

By the end of March, after a few weeks of slogging through Vana’diel mostly on my own or with a couple of friends, relegated to being RDM or a rather gimp non-relic DRK, later on a very underequipped, underskilled, and missing-many-spells BLU, I decided that I wouldn’t log in for a bit. I played other games through April, including The Old Republic, which while fun was plagued by a very low population and a rather unexciting battle system.

I decided to go back to Eorzea and give it an actual shot. I had been somewhat having fun but by the end of May, my life clock rolled over to the thirtieth year, and my mood returned to the general doldrums I’d been in since January.

Then an old friend of mine from high school told me exactly what I’d needed to hear, and I returned to the perpetually happy person I had been years before. I proceeded through in Eorzea, acquiring Paladin and basically having a good time, but I still read the information on BG from Vana’diel and wondered if maybe I wanted to go back.

Finally, a friend linked me an interesting character that was being sold: it was her old linkshell leader. I inquired as to where she was hanging out now, and by this point I’d read Prothescar’s BLU guides on FFXIAH‘s BLU forum and thought “Why the hell not?”

I joined up with ProjectVoid, and so far I’m having a good time. It’s a good group of long-time players like myself, and I feel like I fit in somewhat.

Anyway, it’s time for “what Jukor has been doing in Vana’diel since returning!”

BLU lacks 26 spells and has all the proper “solo” spells for /NIN and /RDM both as well as for /DNC. I need to get /WAR to 49 so I can abuse BLU/WAR and for DRK as well. Finally on the support job front I need to get SCH to 49 for RDM. I’m working on building out Charged Whisker, but until I get my AF3 hands and feet to at least +1 I’m not sure how my numbers will be.

Magian trials are progressing very slowly. I finally got the 15 Light Geodes for Surya’s Staff +2 last night, picked up another Side-sword to make the AGI Shikargar, and my STR Shikargar is stillborn as I need to round up a bunch of Aquans on a Firesday in the future. Almace is on Ratatoskr, so I’ve still got a ways to go.

I compiled a list of what +1, +2, and accessories I need for my jobs and the list is staggering. I should level another job to 99, but until I get my existing 90+ jobs finished out equipment-wise, not to mention merits, I shouldn’t try to equip something else.

Until next time!

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This week I paid for two Fell Cleave parties to get my Blue Mage from 30 to 99, so I have quite a bit of catching up to do for spells and skills. I had enough merits stored after the second FC to max Assimilation, so I will be able to easily set desirable traits and spells in the future.

I’ve been using the Blue Mage Hunting Grounds website as a reference in my quest to learn every spell, and so far I’m about a third of the way through it, finishing up through Level 50’s last night. In addition to those, I managed to pick up Bad Breath, Feather Barrier, Dimensional Death, and Radiant Breath because of where I was farming the other spells.

I’ve always enjoyed going to out-of-the-way places in Vana’diel, and farming spells for BLU is no exception.

Once I complete the spell list, I will definitely farm up a Blue Mage’s Testimony and fight Raubahn in the Blue G5 quest. This job has turned out to be more enjoyable than I expected three years ago when I entertained leveling it!

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The time has arrived for me to get down to business and actually level stuff up. Since completing the Level 99 Limit Break quest, I have a need to sit down and get both “main” jobs and “support” jobs up to snuff.

First priority is to get Red Mage to 99, followed by DRK to 99, then for hilarity’s sake, BLU to 99.

Then comes the pain of getting WAR, DRG, MNK, SCH, RNG, BST, and all the others to 49 or greater.

Fell Cleave days anyone?

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The Magian Moogles are going to see a lot of me as things progress. Between getting my AF3 and some AF2 upgraded, I am working on a few weapons for various purposes: a STR Shikargar for my eventual Almace offhand, Almace itself, the Occasionally Attacks Twice Fulgurante, the Occasionally Attacks 2 to 4 Times Ogresse, and I have aspirations for an Apocalypse and an Ochain or Aegis, perhaps.

Yesterday I camped various NMs to get caught up on Almace’s trials to the VNM portion since one of them leads to Krabkatoa, whom I need 10 shells from for the OAT Great Sword. I took down Tottering Toby 3 times, took down Drooling Daisy once, then went to blow up the Rank 3 dragon for a friend before heading out to dinner. After dinner, I logged back in and got my other 2 Drooling Daisy kills, helping out a BLU on the first kill, as he only needed one more kill and I had wide scan from /RNG1 (really need to level that up at some point).

After those I sent him a tell asking if he was having any luck with Gargantua, as he was in Beaucedine, and I told him I’d finished Trial 152 and wanted to know if he wanted help on Trial 153. Turns out that since it’s for the Katana and Great Axe Empyreans as well he had a group going, which I joined up with. I had to go to bed at 11 PM, so I stayed AFK in the party and they got 2 kills of Gargantua before disbanding around 2 AM. Tonight will be spent up there for sure if my LS friends aren’t on.

These trials for some reason are more fun than mindlessly massmurdering the same class of mob a few hundred times. I know that I’m going to have to pretty much go into Zen mode for the OA2-4 Scythe’s long string of death. Oh well.

Perhaps I can finish up Trial 153 and get ready for the further trials tonight, but I’m hoping we can go seal hunting for RDM or DRK stuff too. We’ll see what happens in about three hours!

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“Your level limit is now 99!”

Time to finish leveling stuff up now~

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Sometimes one has to fall further than they ever have to find where they should be.

{removed}

I entertained returning to WoW, playing The Old Republic, or merely returning to the addiction of Quake 3 Arena, Counter-Strike, or some similar FPS. However, in the end, just over $600 and a new machine later, I returned to where I had gone to long before: Vana’diel–Final Fantasy XI.

After a series of false starts week before last, I began playing again more often this past weekend upon finishing the machine. Thus far, I have completed Red Mage AF3+1 Head, I have all the seals for Dark Knight AF3+1 Hands, and a smattering of other seals for DRK and Paladin as well.

Things are shaping up to thrust me into where I should be, and I merely need to work on getting leveled up ASAP. I reconnected with old friends, and with my sudden amount of free time, I should be able to get caught up quickly.

Fortunately, Vana’diel is full of things to keep me busy between Magian Trials, farming Dynamis, Voidwatch, and all the other things out there. The future looks exciting in its own way!

The hopeless addict has returned. Pray this isn’t a mistake on my part!

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About a year ago, I decided to quit FFXI for WoW, like a lot of Vana’diel veterans, then quit that not too long afterwards after a very bad run in the Pit of Saron, went MMO-less for a couple of months, then went back to Vana’diel for a short while. That was very short-lived as at that point I wasn’t ready to mess with Abyssea, even though I acquired a Stone Gorget for myself.

I then went back to Azeroth and played WoW until late October when a minor change in life coupled with Patch 4.0.1 made me rethink what I was doing with my time. Fortunately, the day before, I acquired [The Horseman’s Reins] and had a horse that galloped through the sky if I decided to return, and sure enough I did a few weeks later.

A friend of mine had moved his characters to Shadowsong and changed to Horde for Cataclysm. I had adjusted to 4.0.3’s version of Protection Paladin and had fun questing to 85. Then came running instances. I will definitely say that Wrath’s instance model was a lot easier: grab everything and AoE it down. Cata’s reliance on crowd-control and the small number of instances to run is just plain irritating, and I still haven’t done a Heroic.

Then came one thing I had sort of secretly been hoping to hear from this same friend: he was considering going back to Vana’diel. I like WoW, but I also like the relative simplicity of FFXI vs. WoW’s ludicrious “you must have a thousand addons and one that yells at you to be good.” Another friend of mine said it pretty well: “WoW is fun half the time, but FFXI is halfway fun all the time.” I think I like the latter better because there’s usually something fun to figure out in XI.

Magian trials haven’t driven me completely nuts yet: I need about 100 more elementals to die on lightsday to get to Surya’s Staff, then another 175 of the same for the +1, and 15 light geodes (easily acquired from the AH) for the +2. I’m still trying to decide if I want to make an Almace (which would require joining an endgame linkshell) or Badelaire +2 for my “final” mainhand sword. The only good thing about this is that the STR Shamshir +2 is easily done, as will be the remaining damage staves.

I do have a lot of work to do on support jobs, however. WHM was already 49 from my time over the summer, and BLM is close, hitting 43 last night, but beyond that, the melee subs will be painful, but I can do FoV + /DNC to make those easy, and of course the remaining mage sub of SCH will suck hardcore as it is a mere 10.

All in all, I probably shouldn’t have departed Vana’diel back last March, but it was probably best at the time. I will probably play this game until the servers are switched off, and perhaps at 99 a new “full” expansion will come out to solidify a true “endgame” area for the “true” max level. Abyssea feels too much like a “farming” area once you’ve hit 90 and capped all your merits and such as opposed to a true “endgame” area like Sky or Sea or a “raid” like Dynamis or Limbus. But enough banter, now we get to the real meat of this entry.

As one who has long considered Red Mage to be his main job, I would always check patch notes when a new one occurred to see what RDM got or didn’t get. The lack of Cure V as of now kind of sucks, but getting Regen II again was rather nice. Additionally, access to the Tier 4 elemental nukes is amazing, and we are sure to get Thunder IV in the next update. The removal of caps on Enhancing Magic is crazy. By my calculations, at 400 skill, which should be relatively easy to accomplish, I will have a Phalanx that absorbs 38 and a 25-damage Enspell. Furthermore, with capped enhancing at 90, I can cap Stoneskin with any support job naked. Haste/Fast Cast ahoy! I am happy with this paradigm shift of 100% curebot to backline support with enfeebles, though I’m not sure where RDM’s place in a party is in Abyssea with ridiculous Refresh available from Atmas and a lot of the awesome things RDM brings to other party members directly is available as /RDM. Refresh II is nice, though probably somewhat redundant, and apparently people don’t like enfeebles anymore? I can’t imagine why. When a BLM will soon be able to Haste and Refresh himself, I’m not sure that RDM will really have a slot in a party. Maybe I’m just seeing an unfortunate shift of RDM to how it originally was back when the game first came out: a job without a party slot so long as one of the “specialists” were available.

Maybe some amazing thing will happen in the next update to allow RDM to have a guaranteed party slot once more. RDM is still the strongest soloist, but is that relevant in a world of lowmanned things where a WHM can Refresh himself and heal many times better and a MNK tanks? I still love RDM, but I’m not sure I like this brave new world. But hey, none of this is relevant until I get my other support jobs up to 49 and decide which job(s) I want to take to 90 as well, right?

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After quitting FFXI back in March, I decided to devote my MMO time entirely to World of Warcraft. I’d been playing it between events in XI for a month or so, and the constant prodding of a friend of mine, coupled with SE’s gigantic “EFF YOU” to most of the playerbase in raising the cap to 99, which I still consider to be a desperate act, drew me completely to Azeroth. I was playing a human Paladin, so I began the grind to 80 in earnest. With the exception of a dozen or so quests and a few instances, I did it entirely solo.

While I took a short break from WoW a month or so after hitting 80 and went back to XI for a month or two, I decided to go back to WoW last week. I sort of wish I’d never left, heh.

Before I quit, I would run the undead half of the instance Stratholme at a shot at the mount from the boss, Baron Rivendare. The item, [Deathcharger’s Reins], is a very rare drop, and after 27 kills, I managed to acquire it last night!

Overall, I find WoW to be a much deeper and better game than FFXI. The biggest reason is that you can do a significant majority of the content by yourself. Compulsory grouping is one of the larger turn-offs to FFXI. Not to mention the ability to log in for an hour and actually get something done in WoW as opposed to that hour being the time necessary to get a party together or wait for the boat or whatever in FFXI.

My gear isn’t nearly what it should be, but one of my friends is helping pull me up, and I need to get off my duff and run random Heroics for emblems. My Armory can be seen here.

All in all, Azeroth is a much more forgiving world than Vana’diel on many levels. If FFXI is boring you, give WoW a try. If anything, the world’s scale is a lot bigger and the attention to detail is higher.

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“There ain’t no gettin’ offa this train we’re on.” -Final Fantasy VII

This past weekend’s VanaFest saw Square Enix make a series of announcements that will forever change the face of Vana’diel.

The one most people are reacting to is the announcement of the level cap being raised to 99 from 75. The last time the level cap was raised was in late 2003 when the cap was raised to 75, just over 6 years ago.

My response to this was to immediately cancel my content IDs out of protest and quit the game. I absolutely do not want to level my support jobs to 50 and my jobs to 99.

Is this a knee-jerk reaction? Not really. I was already burning out beforehand, and that pushed me over the edge. I still remember the old days of overcrowded exp camps, and I strongly think this is SE’s final attempt to stop the bleeding of customers that’s been going on for quite some time. It’s probably backfired.

It’s been fun, Vana’diel. I won’t be joining FF14 after this announcement.

And no, nobody on Phoenix can have my accounts. I’m putting my token away in a place I’ll forget where it is.

My train’s reached the end of the line… Time for me to disembark.

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In +1’ing my Duelist’s Chapeau, I now permanently have -5 inventory as I am 99.9% sure I will never get another NQ one. While having Duelist’s Armor claim slip as a key item was fun for a while, not missing out on another 3 MND for Slow II reallly is worth the inventory space loss.

I’ve passed on several -1 Duelist pieces before solely because I was looking forward to the day I’d be able to store my relic armor set and regain some needed inventory space; however, now that I have “the” +1, I may start working on the others. The hands, legs, and feet should be easy to get as they all drop from easy things: Buburimu for the hands, Nightmare Hornets in Tavnazia for the legs, and Qufim for the feet. The body, however, drops off Tavnazia’s Nightmare Clusters, a mob we rarely are able to get to, let alone fight, so it will be quite some time before I acquire that particular piece. … If anything, full Duelist +1 will make killer town gear!

Of all my semi-lofty goals for this game, I think that full Duelist +1 is the most lofty: a Dalmatica will eventually find its way to me, same with that infernal Goliard Saio that refuses to drop, same with a myriad of other items. But HQ’ing an entire relic set is two-fold: time and money. Each piece requires a token amount of ancient currency as well as the corresponding armors, so I find myself pricing them all out and hoping it takes a while for them to drop!

With FFXIV due out at some point this year, I wonder how sharply Vana’diel’s population will be cut. I don’t intend to switch to XIV: in fact, I may “grow up” so to speak and quit MMOs at some point in the not-so-distant future. That all depends on how badly XIV takes a toll on the overall population.

Needless to say, 2010 should be an exciting year for me in Vana’diel!

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