[FFXIV] Stormblood!



Becuz of course I have been playing it all weekend!  Or.. as much as I could anyway, since Friday was a work day that started in the Washington, DC area and finished with me back at home in Utah.  Long day between work and the flight.  Anyway… On Friday morning I was able to log in and unlock both Samurai and Red Mage, since they both unlock in Ul’dah quite close to each other.  And when I was able to log in in the evening I began working on leveling Red Mage, becuz that was my plan from the get-go — level Red Mage to 60, then work the MSQ with the new job.


Gorgeous city!

As you may have seen in other places, there were a lot of problems with instancing for the 1st couple of days, so even though I wasn’t being MSQ-gated by “Raubahn Ex” or “Pipin Savage” as people were calling them, I couldn’t do my level 52 Job Quest for Red Mage either.  Which wasn’t a big deal, as it didn’t gate anything, but it was still an issue, so I felt everyone’s pain.  Just maybe not to the same extent 😉


Kugane’s Housing District


A koi pond in the housing district.

Still and all, on Saturday I got to level 58, then on Sunday I made it to 60 and began working on the MSQ, eventually making it to level 63 by the end of the day.  And then yesterday I was sick — legit sick, not “sick so I can play more” though since it made it such that I was able to play all day, so the result was the same.  My progress now is that I’ve completed the Ruby Sea zones, and the “south half” of Yanxia.  Interestingly enough, doing the half-zone there is enough to unlock flying, but the north half of the zone has force fields and walls that you can’t fly over, so there’s still a big part of it that’s locked by the MSQ even with flight.


Samurai unlocked

I’ve primarily focused on playing Red Mage, but I did do an itty bit as samurai as well in order to begin catching it up to 60 with the rest of my jobs.  It wasn’t much, just 6 of the HW beast tribes and a few of the level 50-53 hunt mark logs from the Forgotten Knight.  Even so that was worth almost half a level, and once I’ve got my Red Mage to 70, then I’ll probably use the daily leveling roulette for SAM instead of RDM, since the token reward is the same regardless, but RDM won’t need the xp anymore.  That will take me to 60 on it, anyway.  I don’t really have a plan on leveling any job to 70 after RDM, though I find I’m taking MNK/SAM and healer gear as the quest rewards, so I’ll have plenty of gear in my bags for those jobs/roles to use.


Underwater City

I’ve also played a little bit on my daughter’s summoner in order to get through the MSQ so as to be able to unlock Stormblood for her as well.  I’ve got her past the Final Steps of Faith now.  And I did Xelphatol too, but the next dungeon in the story is Baelsar’s Wall and I need i230 to go in, and she’s only at something like i221.  Good thing poetics come quickly and I can use them to buy i260 gear anymore, right?  But yeah, that will be a thing over the next bit as well.


Collector’s Edition “Nessie” mount

Playing her character allowed me to see the summoner changes.  I like that the aetherflow stacks don’t have a time limit/expire anymore, but I don’t like that you can’t use 3 charges, refresh to have 3 more stacks, then hit up Dreadwyrm Trance and use the 3 fresh charges while under its effect for the damage bonus.  Contagion doesn’t add 15 seconds to dots anymore, just boosts their damage by 10% for the standard duration.  Shadowflare is now instant cast, though still ground-targeted (unless you macro it with the t switch) and lasts for 20 seconds, with a 60 second cooldown.  There are only 2 dots now, not 3, plus Miasma 2 and Blizzard 2 are gone, so it feels like the AE damage output has been reduced by a lot.  But popping DWT refreshes the cooldown on Tri-disaster, so that’s nice, at least.  Sustain has been removed, so the only pet heal we have is a directly targeted Physick, but it’s so rare that one needs to heal a pet, that I don’t think that’s actually a big deal.  On the other hand, I’ve read that Titan-Egi is a lot squishier anymore, so maybe it is a big deal.  I know I haven’t used him in a long time, though, preferring to simply go with Garuda-Egi at all times.  I haven’t looked to see if/how Ifrit-Egi has changed, but I have been in a couple of groups with summoners and they’ve been pulling out Ifrit for trash, then swapping to Garuda for bosses, so I’ll have to check that out at some point.


Red Mage!

And finally…. Red Mage!  The playstyle for it is a bit reminiscent of the ARR Black Mage, which I loved, with the slight change of dashing in and doing a melee combo as a “finisher” of sorts, with a leap back out.  It’s not quite as “turret-y” as BLM is/was, though, since there’s a class passive from level 1 called “dual cast” that makes the next spell cast after any “hard cast” into an instant cast, so you can cast every other spell on the run if you want/need.  Plus the melee skills are weaponskills and as such can also be used while moving, so long as you’re in melee range.  BLM was “fire fire fire ice ice thunder ice fire fire fire etc” so there was some swapping back and forth.  In the case of BLM it was for mana regen, as fire used mana, but ice regenerated it (while doing less damage).  For RDM you need to cast both your black and white magic spells, but try to keep the number balanced so that as you fill up your mana gauge you can then use the gauge to power up your melee skill.  they do some damage on their own, but it’s not spectacular.  Unless you have at least 80 points on your gauge of both black and white magic, then the damage done is really really good.  Not due to the amount per se, but due to the fact that the 3-skill combo eats 80 points from the gauge, so for max damage, you need the 80.


Red Mage at 60 on Sunday afternoon. I’ve leveled everything to 60 before, so I know how to get from 50-60 in 2 days 😉

The way it works is:  Cast Jolt to begin.  This gives 3 to both.  Then pick one to cast next, either Veraero (white) or Verthunder (black).  This gives 11.  There’s a 50% chance that you will enable Verstone (if you cast Veraero) or Verfire (if you cast Verthunder).  If it procs, then you can cast it and gain an additional 9 of the corresponding magic type.  This also enables Dualcast and allows you to then cast the “other color” spell instantly.  Which has the chance to proc the additional spell to boot.  Or if the proc doesn’t fire, then you hit Jolt again.  Unless you’re past level 66 and have Impact, in which case casting Jolt makes it so that you can cast Impact as your next starter if there are no “color” procs.

If you don’t balance the gauge and once side gets more than 30 points ahead of the other, then the lower side has a 50% reduction in gains until they’re back within 30 again.  There’s no penalty to the spell itself, just that it will take longer before you have enough gauge filled to be able to use your melee skills, so there is a slight dps loss, but not a huge one.

So anyway, once you have 80 on both sides of the gauge, then you can hit your dash button that charges in, do the 3-skill melee combo, then it your “leap out” ability to get back to range.  At 68 and 70 there are 2 more spell skills that you can then use (based on which color is still higher on the gauge, so yeah, you don’t want it “perfectly” balanced, just close…) that give a gauge boost and guarantee that Verstone or Verfire will proc for you.

You also have 2 instant cast, no-mana big hit spell abilities that are off the global cooldown.  1 is single-target on a 25 second cooldown, and 1 is AE on a 45 second cooldown.  They’re free dps, so they should be hit on cooldown.

You also have a cure, a combat raise, a group dps boost that diminishes over its duration, and a skill that doubles your current gauge, so every couple of minutes you only need to build 40-49 on the gauge, then hit the double skill, and CHARGE!!!!

All in all it makes for engaging gameplay, but without too much complexity.  And unlike the Heavensward Black Mage, you don’t feel like you’re ever fighting your class in order to play to the max.  I am really enjoying the job, and am looking forward to finishing my leveling to 70 so I get my last 2 skills!

There’s a lot more, but….. This is already plenty long, so —

Happy gaming out there!

[Stellaris] 4X Space Game Time!


Stellaris 00.JPG

Gotta love a pretty launcher

I mentioned briefly in my last post that I’d bought Stellaris.  I’ve played rather a lot of it this past month and finally feel like I’m getting a handle on it.  It’s VERY overwhelming at 1st, even with all the Master of Orion, MoO2, and Civ series 4X games I’ve played.

Some things I’ve found that are different than any other game I’ve played:

Stellaris 04.jpg

The planet rotates, there are night-time lights, and the cloud layer moves independently.  Nice details!

It is a pause-able real-time game, not turn-based.  You can pause any time, though, and things queue up when paused, so you can turn it kinda pseudo-turn-based.  1 second real time = 1 day in game.  All months are 30 days, so it’s a 360 day year, meaning that 10 years is 3600 seconds — 1 hour.  This is on normal speed.  Fastest speed feels like it’s 1 second = 2 days.  And quite frankly, so little happens at any given time that since you can pause (and there are auto-pause options for events that you can set too) I really don’t know why anyone ever turns it slower, with the possible exception of watching a space battle play out.  Even on fastest speed with getting 20 years to an hour, I can’t really imagine a win in less than about 150 years (and I think that would be REALLY fast — you can see in my screenshots that these are all 250-276 years along…..), so that’s a minimum 7.5 hours for a game on fastest speed, assuming you never paused it.  Which of course you paused it, so…. yeah.  Games are really long.  Be ready for that.

Stellaris 03.jpg

A late-game map.  I was “The Federation” — pacifistic egalitarians.  Worked pretty well.

The technology tree is indeed a tree, but what you can research next isn’t only dictated by its position on the tree, but also a random system that will only show you a default of 3 available options, so you can’t necessarily determine an optimum research path and then blow through that in each game — you can only pick from what you’re given.  You can take traits and get event rewards that let you see more than the default 3, but those are semi-rare and you can’t be sure you’ll get those in the course of a game either.  The options shown are weighted — prerequisites seem to show almost all the time, so you can generally be sure you’ll see one of them, at least.

The race appearances are completely cosmetic.  It’s the governing civics and traits that actually matter.  And boy do they matter….  Interestingly enough, since you’re the player you aren’t necessarily as governed by the traits as the NPC players are — you can take the Xenophobe trait for the increased border range but then play as a Xenophile, while the NPC player would stay true to the ethic.  But that said…. playing as a Fanatical Pacifist Xenophobe who expands quickly while closing his borders to all others and refusing all trade requests is an interesting RP experience.

Combat is generally “put it all in 1 fleet and whoever has the bigger number is gonna win.”  If you keep your “doomstack” as big or bigger than the NPC nations they tend to not attack since they know they can’t win (the diplomacy screen tells you relative strengths of navies), so try to keep your ship count at or near the cap at all times.  And here’s something a little surprising — your cap goes DOWN by 20% if you join a federation, since part of your fleet is considered to be contributed to the federal navy, so be careful when joining or creating one as it can mess with the upkeep costs and screw your economy.

The game saves the custom races you make and you can use them as NPC players in your games too, so it’s possible to make a bunch of pacifist races and then see who can build up the fastest.  Or a bunch of militaristic xenophobes dedicated to conquering the galaxy and purging all other races…..  or anything in between.

Megastructures — the Sentry Array’s ability to see all ships in the galaxy is a huge benefit.  The Ringworld is simply amazing.  The Dyson Sphere seems awesome, but ends up being a bit underwhelming, as does the Science Nexus.  Habitats seem underwhelming at 1st, but since you can build so many of them, they actually easily are better in the aggregate than the Dyson or the Science station.  And if you can find some of those rare systems with 9-10 planets in them, well … 9 habitats in a system is actually better than a Ringworld.  Or a decent sized planet and 7-8 habitats too.  Here’s the math on that:  Habitat = 12 slots, so 8 planets = 96, 9 = 108.  Ringworld is 4 sections x 25 slots per section = 100.  Size 16 planet + 7 habitats = 100, so that’s pretty much the cutoff there.

Stellaris 07.jpg

Ringworlds are amazing!

For energy, using base numbers (not the bonused ones you get as you research more tech and have higher happiness) — 12 slots.  Capital gives 5 energy and then the other 11 slots give 8 for a total of 93 energy per habitat.  4 habitats thus equals 372 energy.  Cost to build:  400 influence and 20,000 minerals, plus some niggling amount of minerals for the 11 power stations.  And of course the time cost of actually filling the 12 slots with pops.  You can build 4 habitats simultaneously in 5 years (2.5 years if you have the Master Builders ascension perk).  Serially, then it’s 20 years or 10 with the perk.  If you have more than 4 planets in a system you can build that much more energy too.  And when you add in happiness bonuses and whatnot…. well, in my current game I’m getting about 130 energy per focused habitat, so 3 = 390 energy, and 4 is 520.

Stellaris 01

Dyson Sphere under construction

Stellaris 05.jpg

Dyson Sphere complete!

Stellaris 06.jpg

And it looks awesome!

Compare this to a Dyson Sphere which  is the only structure you can build in a system and can’t be built in an inhabited system.  Cost is 300 influence and 210,000 minerals, with a 55 year build time (27.5 with Master Builder perk).  And you get 400 energy out of it.  Period.  This doesn’t change.  Flat 400.  Habitats are cheaper and build faster.  But you can build a Dyson Sphere without it counting toward your inhabited system total and/or in a sector also, so there are cases where you’d still want to build them.  But not before you can’t build any more habitats, IMO.

Stellaris 02.jpg

This is a… hmm.  Custom race.  Humanoid appearance, but I think I chose the Avian ship appearances, so this would be the Avian habitat, even though I was playing humanoid.

Science Nexus is similarly underpowered/overpriced.  Habitats can do 33 science unbonused, so 3 habitats is 99 science, vs 90 for the Nexus.  Same 300 influence cost.  And 15K minerals for the habitats with a 2.5-15 year build time depending on your builder perk and 3 simultaneous vs serial builds vs the Nexus’s 25 year (12.5) build time and 70K mineral cost.  And this represents an 80% buff to the nexus from initial implementation.  It originally gave 50 science when complete, but is now buffed to the 90.  And you can only build 1 Nexus per system, while habitats are 1 per planet, s you can get up to 10 (5-6 is much more normal, but even 6 is more than double a Nexus’s output.  Or 3 power plants and 3 science to effectively have both a Nexus *and* a Dyson Sphere in the same system…).  And to boot — I’m getting closer to 50 science per habitat in my current game, so 2 habs = better than a Nexus for me.

Sentry Array – Brings the entire galaxy into your sensor range.  Nothing else is like it, so this rocks and you should definitely build one.  300 influence, 70K minerals, 25 (12.5) years.

TL;DR on megastructures:

  • Ringworld – Usually the best thing you can build in a system.
  • Habitats – Your workhorse megastructure.  It does count as a planet against the penalty to your Research and Unity costs for next, so plan around that when dropping them.
  • Dyson Sphere – Focused Habitats are generally better to build.  Only build once you can’t build more habitats.  Or maybe in an extremely crappy system that can’t have at least 3 habitats.
  • Science Nexus – Focused Habitats are generally better to build.  Only build once you can’t build more habitats.  Or maybe in an extremely crappy system that can’t have at least 2 habitats.
  • Scanning Array – Awesome!  Nothing else like it!

So anyway… yeah, it’s a lot of fun.  I’m very glad I picked it up in the pre-Stormblood lull from FFXIV.

Happy gaming out there!


[FFXIV] Bonus Item Screenies

I did the Easter event back when it came out.  The way my Roegadame sits on it though… all of her outfits seem to have skirts of some kind, and the way she sits on the egg makes them “fly up” and look silly.  The only outfit that wasn’t too awful was my gathering gear, but even it had some of the skirt thing going on —


Flying Easter Egg Mount

Frankly, I’ve not played much since then, mostly just an occasional login to say hi to the FC, but that’s about it.  Just waiting for Stormblood to come out…..

But I did buy a 60-day time card on Amazon in order to qualify for the promo, so here as some screenies of that:


The new Dragoon glamour stick. and of course the MSQ outfit becuz it’s pretty kewl looking too.


I glamoured my monk gear to be the new eastern garb. Dalamud Red dye, in case you care. And yes, this is the new cloud mount. I reallllllly like it!


Applying the time card put me over the threshold for the next veteran gear reward, so here’s the barding I got, this time on my daughter’s character.


My daughter’s character in the Eastern Garb with the cloud mount also.


This sounds like a fun game, just like it says

As to what I’ve been filling my time with….. still mostly Civ6 and Pillars of Eternity.  On this playthrough I’ve done the White March 1 and 2, plus I think I’m nearing the end of Act 3.  The group of 6 is all capped at level 16, so…. shouldn’t be much longer to finish, and then perhaps try again on a harder difficulty with a different group makeup.

I’ve also recently bought Stellaris, since it went on sale on Steam this past week, including the new “everything” bundle in the sale.  Haven’t gotten very far yet, but it seems fun so far.

I even reinstalled Morrowind — amazingly still had my disks from when I bought it back in 2002.  and of course I’ve done a bunch of graphics mods to make it not look so 2002-y anymore.  But after I got it modded, I haven’t really played it much yet.  But soon…. soon……  I played it almost exclusively for about 2 years after it came out, so I’m sure a lot of it will come flooding back to me once I get past Balmora.  Until then, I’ve got no problem taking my time getting back into that world.

And of course, watching tv with the wife, reading books, and my wife and I even saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 last weekend, so….. always plenty of stuff going on, even when I’m not playing a specific MMO each day.

Happy gaming out there!

[FFXIV] Stormblood Benchmark

Squeenix released their Benchmark application for Stormblood.

I imported my settings into it that my video card sets for me, and got this:
FFXIV SB Bench Results

Not bad…

On Heavensward and ARR I only got “High” with lower settings so I guess that video card upgrade I did about 18 months ago really is making a big difference….

Here’s the trailer that the benchmark plays:

Can I just say “YES!!!! I am so there!” about the Red Mage?

[FFXIV] So This Happened…


There it was…

Yep… I got my final job to 60.  Go me!


Yep, they’re all 60 now

But here’s the thing….  When I play games I like to feel like I’m advancing.  And now that I’ve got everything to 60, where do I go from here?

Gear grinding?  Well.. I could, but… I’m already at i260 on my preferred job, and i257 on my backup job, and I don’t care to do the things that would be necessary to go the last little bit to i270.  And all the other jobs… I don’t really care to play them other than to level them up and most of them are in the i240 range from all the i245 dungeon gear drops from the latest expert dungeons anyway, so it’s not like they’re really that far behind.  And given how gear levels worked when Heavensward released, I’m thinking it’s likely that Stormblood will want gear in the i230 range when its progression begins so… I’m there.  No need to grind gear.

Relic?  Nah.  That’s a big grind that I never have cared to even start.

Diadem?  Never done it, so it could be interesting, I guess.  But… I also don’t know what I’m missing by not doing it, so I can’t say I really care either.

PVP?  You’re aware of who you’re talking to right?  Not. Going. To. Happen.

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m in a state of deep apathy about FFXIV until Stormblood comes out.  And blogging too, it seems.  These screenshots are dated March 15th.  Yikes!

I’ve only been logging in about once a week lately so my FC won’t kick me for inactivity (well, they wouldn’t for 90 days, but I like to make my presence felt at least once a week), and it’s really  just been “log in, say hi to everyone, send the retainers out, log back out.”  I did the Easter event on my character and on my daughter’s so we both have the flying egg mount that shoots the chocobo chicks out the front, but that took all of 15 minutes for each, so… not a big deal, really.


I liked this armor look enough to shell out to buy it, in spite of my apathy

And even though I’ve been logging in a lot less, I’ve not missed it either.  I expect that will change in June, but until then….

I’ve been playing a lot of Civ 6 — it’s vastly improved since it 1st came out with the various balance patches they’ve done on it.  And I’ve got a better feel for the pacing of the game, so I don’t always feel like I need to do ALL THE THINGS and if I’m not doing ALL THE THINGS then I’m so far behind, so it’s a much more enjoyable pastime now.

The AI still makes really weird decisions at times though.  Like this city for example:

Civ6 Cordoba


And this past week I’ve gotten hooked on Pillars of Eternity again.  I’ve always felt a bit like I’ve shorted that game due to not playing through the 3rd Act, much less the expansion areas, so I did some studying up on it on how to build better characters, maybe make a better party, that kind of thing.  And I’m running through it fresh and doing a lot better this time.  I decided to try the highly defensive “3 paladins, 3 chanters” thing and it’s working quite well.  I’ll admit to modifying it a bit, so I’ve got 2 chanters and my “main character” is a rogue to add a bit more damage dealing capability.  But anyway, the only “knockout” I’ve suffered was when fighting a dragon.  One of the paladins folded up quickly (I assume he failed a saving throw since the other 2 were fine), but the chanters did their thing and it all worked out.  And this group is about to start Act 3 now, so I’m just as far as I was before, so… time for new content that I won’t vaguely remember as I’m running through it!

Happy gaming out there!