Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pulling: Redux

Dulling the Axe

Most of my pulling discussions tend to be oriented toward /RDM -- not because /NIN is the devil, but because that's what I use and that's what I have fun doing. I'm not out to convert the world to /RDM. In this post, I'd rather stress the importance of the strategies that come into play when you're out to have fun while you're meriting, and the easiest ways I've found to make the transition between looking for parties and having parties look for you.


A short set of social rules that seem to apply to every party and pulling situation:

If you take the initiative to make the party:
1. You can pull however and wherever you like.
2. You can take only people you know, and -- if you want -- only people you like.
3. You can party as long (or as short) as you like.

If you seek party:
1. You might have to advocate for your pulling strategy, or for a particular camp.
2. You'll take who you get.
3. You can still party as long as you like, but whether or not it's fun is mostly up to chance.

You can pretty much guess which situation I favor for this one.

The easiest way to have fun while you merit is to get a group together from your linkshell or to build an extensive flist of people you like to exp with. You can also ask for recommendations from your friends and try to merit in parties that are at least half composed of people you already know and like.

There's nothing breakthrough about this strategy, but I'm always surprised by how many people complain about meriting when all they do is look for parties ... instead of building their own.

Constructing a Group

Caveat: Situational. There are plenty of guides out there to exp camps. I deal mostly with merit-burn style parties.

1. A good healer. I don't like inviting healers I don't know, because a bad one will be the death of you.

2. A corsair. Not absolutely necessary, but it's good to build up a list of corsairs that you like and that like you back -- if you see one you like out in thickets, strike up a conversation, flist them, and invite them to your next group if they're amenable.

3. DD. Almost anyone will do, and I'll invite anyone if I like their company enough. Flist the ones who impress you in your best parties. If you have three strong DD, it's possible to have a good merit party with only five people (healer, bard, ddx3). If you have weak DD, it's usually better to have more/four of them and skip the corsair.

4. You. Bring pulling food of choice and your preferred subjob. Being consistent in choice of camp, pulling methods, and party setup will make actually pulling less of a hassle for you.

You'll find that the people you like will tend to make parties you like -- and that by having an extensive flist, you'll never lack for good invites. That can be both good and bad.

Good: you'll always have nice people to merit with.
Bad: they'll never stop inviting you. Ever.


There are pulling manners.

1. Make sure you (the pulling bard) or your leader have your camp in your seacom. All but the most rude people will check seacoms before they go to a camp. If someone doesn't have their camp commented, I consider it open -- though sometimes I'll make an effort to ask the leaders where their parties are, individually.

2. If you need to pull extra mobs from an area normally patrolled by another party, talk to their puller before you do. You might be able to come to a compromise without breaking either group's exp chain.

3. Wait for all party members to arrive before beginning a chain.

4. This is optional. Break the exp chain and restart when someone new arrives. This is a particularly odd bit of courtesy that some of my long-time friends appreciate. I prefer to ask new arrivals if they'd like me to break chain and restart for them, rather than breaking chain without explanation.

5. At bird camp -- middle or bottom -- do not pull birds from the other level, respectively, without express permission from the other puller. If you do it accidentally, tender an immediate apology to avoid the other puller embarking on a revenge-pulling contest. Most people won't care, but it's the rare few who do that will end up driving you up a wall.

6. Handle any special requests at the beginning of the party. This is why it pays to merit with people you know -- they already know what to expect from you and how you like to pull. I like my melee to kill whatever I pull first, links second. They know that and it's easier for them to make up their minds about a target in a link situation. If all else fails, designate an /assist.

Moral Gray Areas

That would be taking occupied camps or fighting off someone else who is trying to occupy your camp. I've arrived at a camp at the same time as another party, before -- but that's very rare. The usual rule is that the place belongs to whoever is there first and whoever is pulling mobs first. Whether or not you adhere to those unwritten rules is up to you.

The best way to take a camp and keep your reputation intact is to arrive and just begin pulling. Taking a camp is not and never should be a personal matter -- just business, getting yourself and your group some exp. Some people will never camp on other people no matter the situation.

Camping on another group tends to be less of an issue these days, with smnburn, chigoeburn, and increasing camp options. It used to be a much bigger problem, and part of my reason for pulling /RDM was an increased ability to both outpull another party and to defend my camp from people who tried to move in (while it was commented, no less).

I'd like to stress that this is only sometimes an issue at merit camps, but it's something that's bound to happen to everyone at least once in their career. What you do about it is up to you. FYI: there's nothing in the ToS that will give you footing with a GM, so it's up to the players to work/fight it out. XD

End Notes

These are just suggestions for forming and maintaining healthy merit parties. I leave pulling style and camp up to individual choice. It's my hope that the etiquette list will be particularly useful for new bards who may not yet know the implicit code of conduct. Adhering to a personal code will make it easier to compromise with other pullers in your area and will also make you a known quantity to other bards and other people who are frequently meriting near you in the same camp. Unless you like annoying other people and being annoyed in return, following the suggestions in the etiquette list will tend to keep your camps clear and your groups productive.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Elegy Duration - Part Two

Went out and did some quick tests on Wild Rabbits in E.Ronfaure.


Elegy duration in normal gear with Horn+1: ~212 seconds (so at or a little over 3:30)

Predicted duration of night/troub elegy: ~420 seconds (about 7mins).
Actual duration: ~429 seconds



I saw some questions about log messages regarding a non-JA elegy landing when a JA-elegy was already up on a mob. I started by casting Night/Troub Elegy on the rabbit, letting the JA's wear off, then checking the log again when casting with a normal elegy.

Final elegy duration when casting in the first half (first 200-212s) of the elegy window: 275s (4:30)

Conclusion: Non-Night/Troub elegy overwrites Night/Troub elegy (otherwise I'd have seen the longer 7:00min duration rather than the shorter 4:30 duration) -- at least if it comes from the same bard. o-o!


In theory, this should not happen.

A shorter-duration elegy shouldn't overwrite a longer-duration elegy, if debuff priority works the same way that buff priority does. So, I tried the test again -- this time enlisting the help of a fellow bard.

Predicted duration: ~4:30 (270s)
Actual elegy duration: ~4:44 (314s)

: Any bard can overwrite any other bard's elegy, regardless of remaining duration.

And then I got another friend to come out to join us, this time to test Soul Voice.

Predicted duration: ~4:30 (270s)
Actual duration: ~4:56 (296s)
Note: For this test, non-SV'd bards got 'no effect' messages against his SV'd elegy. However, he was able to overwrite his own SV Night/Troub'd Elegy with a non-Night/Troub'd (but still SV'd) elegy.

Conclusion: Soul Voice'd Elegy has priority over any other elegy, regardless of duration. However, Troub+SV elegy can be overwritten by just a normal SV elegy. Casting elegy while an SV elegy is up will result in a 'no effect' message.


Why This is Important

Debuff duration priority does not work the same way that buff duration priority does! A shorter duration song -- and presumably a less potent one -- can overwrite a longer duration song.

Casting elegy after someone else has, and not getting resisted, does not mean that the previous elegy was either resisted or any less potent. It just means that your elegy landed and overwrote the previous elegy. So!

To answer the question posed here:

Casting random elegies at Khimaira is probably a bad idea.

People should just be taking turns, and letting the other bards know when they get a "Khimaira's Elegy wears off" message. This ensures that only Night/Troub'd elegies (hopefully with ES!) will stay on. The last thing you want is to land an elegy that wears off 1:30 later ... when your ES/Night/Troub bard's elegy has only been on for about :30.

IMPORTANT: At the moment, I have not yet had the opportunity to test that this effect is also true on HNMs. However, I don't believe that I'll see any difference.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Links of Interest

Because it's best to read many different opinions. These are circa 2008ish, but still mostly correct on the very old M.Acc vs. Skill vs. CHR debate.

The whole LJ blogroll, for your entertainment (and there are some funny situations and pictures in there).

The notes on Paralyze aren't new and aren't groundbreaking.

Next post: The history of the Skill vs. M.Acc vs. Stat debate.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why is my Lullaby resisted?

Common question! Here's a fun way to find the answer:

1. Are you using a horn or a harp? If horn, go to (2). If harp, go to (10).
2. Is your combined wind+singing skill more than 450? Lower than or equal to 450, go to (3), higher than 450, go to (4).
3. You probably need more +Skill. I suggest Choral Cuffs/Cannions (NQ or +1), Bard's Roundlet/Marduk Tiara, Wind Torque, Nereid Ringsx2, or Oracle's Pigaches. If you still get resists, and your combined skill is above 470 or so, go to (4) -- otherwise keep adding any skill gear.
4. Are you using a Light Staff or an Apollo's Staff? Light, go to (5), Apollo's, go to (6).
5. Get an Apollo's staff. If you're still seeing resists, go to (6).
6. Check your CHR stat. Is it in the ballpark of 110-120? If yes, go to (8), if no, go to (7).
7. Equip some more CHR gear. Kirin's Osode or Errant body is good for this. As is Gleeman's Belt, Jester's Cape +1, and the Omega Ring. If you still get resists, go to (8), if not go to (9).
8. Congratulations, you have all the gear and the stats ... but the mob is probably resistant or immune to lullaby. D: Resistant things tend to take very high levels of skill and/or CHR to lullaby reliably (480-500+ skill, roughly). Try your best!
9. Congratulations, problem solved! :D
10. Is your combined string+singing skill more than 450? Lower than or equal to 450, go to (11), higher than 450, go to (4).
11. Try adding some String skill gear. The String Torque is cheap. If you still get resists, go to (13), if not, go to (9).
12. You probably need more +Skill. I suggest stacking singing where possible. Choral Cuffs (NQ or +1) and Bard's Roundlet/Marduk Tiara offer the weightiest bonuses. If you still get resists, go to (8). If you rarely get resists now, go to (9).
13. Check your CHR stat. Is it in the ballpark of 110-120? If yes, go to (8), if no, go to (7).

Note: M.Acc isn't included much in the key. But it's also helpful on resist rates. Buying an Apollo's Staff has a very noticeable effect on how often your Lullaby is resisted. I always suggest upgrading to the HQ before buying any other gear.

Sometime in the future:
BRD on a Budget - or - What to buy if you don't buy anything else.

Foe Requiem

I saw some questions about this, and very few answers.

This is the wiki's take.

Not very informative, is it?

Let me begin by asserting that I have no concrete numbers to back up my assumptions -- but I can compare with other tiered songs. For example -- singing Army's Paeon V produces a 5-tick regen effect. Singing it with a +2 Paeon instrument produces a 7-tick regen. I assume that Foe Requiem's damage is calculated in a similar fashion. Thus:

FR I = -1 (-3)
FR II = -2 (-4)
FR VI = -6 (-8)
*Numbers in parentheses represent the effect of using a +2 Instrument.

It's reasonable to assume that Requiem works in this fashion. I am fairly confident that Soul Voice doubles the effect of Requiem (it is particularly useful to halt the regen of unclaimed Poroggo Madames, does a fair bit of damage to Salvage chariot bosses, and has applications in Limbus/Nyzul Isle with an active Korin Obi).

Assume that landing Requiem is a lot like landing Elegy. Use an HQ staff if you have it -- they're the best gear money can buy for resists -- and use a combination of Skill, M.Acc, and CHR where available. The effect of Skill tends to be more noticeable than the effect of CHR, and I don't have enough M.Acc to comment. With the +32 of merits, I can reliably land Requiem on targets that are neither light resistant nor immune*. If you have trouble landing Requiem, try putting on more Skill or M.Acc gear.

BRD has no natural enfeebling skill, so it's safe to assume that Enfeebling Magic Skill has nothing to do with songs. M.Attk is known to affect BLM nukes, but there's no evidence that ties it to the effectiveness of an enfeebling song like Requiem.

Bard song effects tend to be constant, anyway -- with the notable exception of Etudes, whose effects decay over time.

*My stick rate on Poroggo Madames tends to suffer if I haven't unlocked my Apollo's Staff, for example.


Additional Reading:
Discussion on BG

The "Snowflake Argument"

It is less of an argument and more of a line of reasoning (such as it is).

The original saying (or some variant) is this: "Every person is as unique as a snowflake."

This reasoning is often used to justify claims or positions that have little practical validity when they are rigorously examined. These claims also tend to be based on little or no evidence, little or no experience, and little or no research.

Unfortunately, the popularity of the "snowflake argument" has devolved into the equally pernicious "snowflake rebuttal."

It looks something like this:
You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 17

Unfortunately, Palahniuk's powerful words are often adopted to belittle and discourage reasonable ideas and discourse. This "snowflake rebuttal" presupposes or assumes that someone is irrational, ignorant, stupid, or a combination of all three. It has become a catchall rebuttal for those who prefer to respond not with reason, but with contempt.

I need not explain how this attitude discourages rational discussion.


Why is this important?
The prevalence of the snowflake argument/rebuttal reflects an unhealthy and unreasoning community. It is fundamentally "bad" rhetoric because it encourages compliance and discourages disagreement with the prevailing opinion.

Consensus is an important part of the decision-making process, but it should not be the sacred 'truth' by which all other opinions are measured.


How does this apply to XI?
The snowflake argument tends to overshadow practical results and encourage conformity to a set standard. It discourages innovation or rational inquiry in all forms. Innovators tend to be belittled before being lauded -- or even reasoned with!

This bothers me more than it should, but the conformist attitude runs rampant in this most common and unproductive of questions: How much CHR do I need?

What's wrong with this approach:
1. It assumes there is a set amount.
2. It assumes that once the 'quota' is met, no further reasoning is necessary.
3. It assumes that it is desirable to achieve this quota at all times and in all situations.
4. It creates an atmosphere in which general hedging overwhelms good, concise, specific discussion.

Summary: Everyone gives their opinion and no one learns much about how much CHR they need -- which is to say very little in some situations, and a moderate amount in others.


Ideally Speaking
In an ideal world people would use good judgment, test the advice they're given, and make informed decisions without being afraid to ask questions or to take unusual paths to improve their personal performance.

In reality?

People use the snowflake argument without thinking ... and move on.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Merit Parties: Pulling /RDM

/RDM appeals to people who feel that they are singing too slowly. It can be done well with very little investment in gear or gil, although -- like most things -- the more you spend on it, the more you'll be rewarded. People who have trouble pulling high chains while /NIN may also experience more success as /RDM.

/RDM will not make you a better puller, but it will decrease the amount of time you spend singing songs.

Greater Colibri -- Nyzul Isle side of Bhaflau Thickets.

NB: I strongly suggest /NIN for Mamool Ja and/or Skoffins. Although /WHM can work at Mamool, it is usually not a pleasant experience. Trying to "Terra's Staff Tank" these can feel like being eaten alive.


Party styles (my two favorites; there are many variations):
BRD-COR-RDM-DDx3 (strong DD)
BRD-RDM-DDx4 (compensating for weaker DD)

I prefer to have a RDM to Refresh me, but there's nothing keeping you from getting a WHM or a SCH. I just end up more cautious with my MP.

I restrict DDx3 parties to people I already know. DDx4 parties are for LSmembers lvl'ing a job to 75, or to compensate for DD who wouldn't be strong/consistent enough in the x3 setup.

Use that format as a guideline. Most of the bad parties I've been in were due to poor choices of job and/or a failure to outline expectations in advance (i.e. 'you mean I was supposed to /war?').

I'm not going to say anything new here -- friendlist people you want to party with. Make mental notes about good and bad DD, Corsairs, and support. People will remember you when your parties consistently perform well.

The real nuts-and-bolts of how this works -- and works so well and so consistently that it's easy to get high chains with average joe melee.

You will need Tavnazian Tacos and an Earth/Terra's Staff. The tacos are optional but very, very helpful. The elemental staff is required. When you arrive at camp, get the highest tier protect your healer has to offer.

Edit: Since I wrote this, I've had more time to use my Lamiabane as a ranged pulling tool. It's great for micromanaging a party's pacing. If the group is exceptionally fast, it's a fun way to have a bird at camp without waiting for it to reflect a song.

Some of this depends on party preference. If you feel your party is not performing with a specific combination, it's your duty to try things until one of them works! That said -- I prefer Marchx2*.

*Note: Corsair's love this! Many of the best DD-COR's I know dual-wield knives for TP.

If you have a RNG, consider giving them Herculean Etude. This is especially effective with someone who has lower quality gear, although even experienced RNGs may be surprised at the uptick in their numbers.

Techniques Specific to /RDM
1. Don't use Lullaby (except on links / in emergencies).
2. Don't "stage" pulls in the traditional sense of the term (see rule 1).
3. Don't idle (feel free to use idle gear like dalm or ixion cloak if you have it).

DO wear Earth/Terra's Staff full time. DO cure yourself and others (swap in your Light/Apollo's for this). DO get Sanction Refresh. DO ask for Refresh when your mp is low.

The most common reasons for a BRD to /NIN at Colibri are to (1)blink reflected songs and (2)blink damage. Rule number one negates the first, while rule number two and rule number three negates the second.

BRD can easily "Terra's Staff Tank" Colibri because they don't hit that hard to begin with! ProtectIV + Terra's Staff + Tavnazian Tacos = ~70-80DMG per hit, barring criticals. This is well within an acceptable tanking range. Mileage will vary based on gear.

If you're going to pull BRD/RDM, commit to pulling like a BRD/RDM and don't try to be a BRD/NIN. Stoneskin, Blink, and Phalanx should be last resorts. Rely on CureIII and -- sometimes -- Regen.

/RDM Pulling Routine
Sing melee buffs. Pull bird with elegy (i.e. pull, run to camp, let bird beat on you). Pianissimo Ballad Mage (one or both ballads, depending on how much time you have between pulls). Pull bird with elegy, run to camp, let bird beat on you while melee finish off the first bird -- but start singing your next set of buffs as soon as you reach camp. This is where, with experience, you can gain a huge edge on pulling speed.

In this scenario, the bard is constantly in motion -- singing, curing, or pulling and returning to camp. My DD gradually figure out that it's better not to chase the colibri, because it's chasing ME. They stand on me to get the next Colibri, and I never have to worry about them straying away from buffs.

There's nothing new about this routine, other than cutting out Lullaby and the technique of staged pulling (using Lullaby to sleep a bird at camp). What /RDM does -- or should do -- is something more like staggered pulling: one bird at a time, for as long as the party lasts. Use your good judgment when it comes to pulling. Allow time for the bird to reflect elegy onto you and fly to camp. Discourage your healer from using Erase -- encourage them to Haste you, instead.

RDM's Fast Cast trait, combined with Marchx2, combined with Haste ... makes it very unlikely that you'll suffer any penalty from being Elegy'd throughout the EXP party.

I also find that melee are more focused both when chains are high and when they feel that another party member (i.e. the Bard) is in danger if they don't hurry up and kill their bird. I like to believe that BRD/RDM takes advantage of the 'protect the support player!' mentality ... but I can't say for sure.


A note on Skill and CHR in merits
You don't need much of either to pull Colibri effectively. Elegy is not often resisted. What you need to wear to be comfortable will depend on your merits and your financial means. Try to find the minimum amount of Skill, M.Acc, and CHR that you need to be consistent -- then wear the minimum and put Fast Cast and MP everywhere else.


Full disclosure
My ninja subjob is at lvl23. It is slowly getting experience through CampaignOps and rare bits of soloing over the weekend. My bard career is broken up with breaks of between 2-13months when life catches up with me.


If you have specific questions about gear or technique, feel free to email me for a more personalized answer.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reflections on the "Majority Opinion"

The majority of people who play bard are part-timers who don't like the job or enjoy playing it. These are also the people who form popular opinion inside the game. Although the loosely-confederated "bard community" of the popular FFXI forums is most often made up of people who like and enjoy the job, that doesn't keep the negative element from expressing their opinions.

Someone who doesn't enjoy bard may prefer to play in a different way from those people who, like myself, prefer to play bard over any other job.

This is especially true when deciding what subjob to use in merit parties. Part-time bards or people who most often play melee jobs tend to prefer using /NIN and Utsusemi. I've spoken with many career bards -- or people who most often play mage jobs -- who are relieved to discover that /RDM is a legitimate and viable alternative to /NIN.

Popular opinion is so set against a /MAGE in a merit party that I had a WHM fuss at me to change support jobs while I was pulling chain 100+. Meanwhile, the same WHM was perfectly okay with the COR/WHM leech in the pt who did nothing but use dice rolls. Delightful.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Preliminary Elegy Tests

Went out to sea to play with some goldfish at the Holla end of Al'Taieu. Naked party!

Base stats:
Wind Skill - 241 (225+16 from merits)
Singing Skill - 241 (225+16 from merits)
Chr - 75 (70+5 from merits)

NB: durations measured in seconds

naked elegy on goldfish
w/o instrument (i.e. completely naked) : 90
w/wrong instrument: 180
w/horn: 216

w/o instrument (+15 singing/12CHR): 180
w/o instrument (+15 wind/0CHR): 90
w/o instrument (+45 CHR/2.Macc): 180
w/o instrument (+24CHR): 180
w/o instrument (+16CHR): 180
w/o instrument (+6CHR): 180
w/o instrument (+0CHR -- completely naked again, just to check!): 90

w/o instrument (Terra's/EarthGrip): 180
w/o instrument (Terra's Only): 180
w/o instrument (Apollo's /+2CHR): 180
w/o instrument (Fire's): 180

Conclusion: Those 90-second elegies are the interesting part. I wasn't resisted once, but 90s was the lowest duration I got -- and it was pretty easy to predict when it was going to happen. 180 is the base duration for the song, so I was surprised that I could get 180s from not only +Singing Skill/CHR, but also by adding as little as 2pts of CHR from Apollo's Staff, alone. Wind Skill while not using an instrument obviously did nothing, but I had to check, anyway. Also interesting is that I could wear a Fire Staff (which does nothing for any bard stat), and still get a 180s duration.

It seems like if you're not using a wind instrument, the game ignores any wind gear you may be using and treats you as if you were -- naked. Whereas if you are not using a wind instrument, but are wearing an inappropriate stat, you are 'clothed' and don't get the half-resist penalty.

The results were so blatantly consistent that I decided to switch to Battlefield Elegy and see if anything changed.


naked battlefield elegy
w/o horn (completey naked!): 60secs
w/wrong instrument (but otherwise naked): 120secs

Conclusion: Same deal. Half-resist while naked. No resist when using an instrument, but no duration bonus. Decided that waiting 2-3mins and hoping for Elegy to get interesting was a waste of time, so went out to see if the same naked-penalty applied to low-lvl mobs.


naked carnage elegy
orcish stonechucker: 180s

Conclusion: Naked penalty doesn't apply, or my CHR stat is so far over the mob's that I don't get half-resists.


I had no way to isolate singing skill, because the only gear I have with singing on it ... also has CHR on it. This would not be a problem if I owned a singing earring. And I would own one, if people hadn't jacked the price up half a mill in the last 2-3months. -_-;;

Because I can't isolate the singing skill, I'm not sure if I unintentionally found the CHR of goldfish (75ish+) and CHR is the only part affecting the partial resist. I hope to find someone who can lend me an earring or test it for me, themselves ... soon. The result with the Fire Staff, however -- in lieu of being able to use a singing earring -- makes me think that at higher levels there's some kind of weird 'naked-penalty' for bards. At least as far as Elegy duration goes.

Also: Goldfish are completely unsuitable for more detailed Elegy-specific testing. I was using Threnody to hold the Goldfish and getting an interesting range of resists, though -- so using Threnody as a substitute test-song may be a possibility.

Haste vs. Fast Cast vs. -Songcasting

A quick summary of the separate effects:

*Increases melee attack speed
*Decreases spell recast timers
*Does not decrease the casting time of spells, only the recast.

Applicaton: Useful for Bard Elegy and Lullaby recast builds. Elegy recast can be a problem in very fast merit parties. You have the option to use both the stronger Carnage Elegy and the weaker Battlefield Elegy to pull in a merit situation, but I prefer to keep only the stronger elegy on my macro bar. If my elegy isn't up for whatever reason, an elemental threnody is an acceptable alternative as a pulling tool.

Fast Cast
*Decreases casting and recast times of all magic (Ninjutsu, Songs, Cures, etc.)
*Gear effects are typically labelled with the amount of -%Casting
Ex: 5% Fast Cast on the Royal Redingote = ~5% -Casting and ~2.5% recast

Application: This is my favorite effect to stack. Bard has a fair amount of Fast Cast gear. The Marduk's set is ~8%. /RDM has a Fast Cast Job Trait that gives ~5% at a subjob of lvl 15 and ~10% Fast Cast at lvl 30. These effects are not additive -- which means that ~10% is the best you'll get out of the Subjob.

Other available gear:
*Rostrum Pumps:
*Warlock's Mantle:
~2% (available as a latent effect while /RDM)
*The ACP body and the Moogle expansion hat can be potentially augmented to
~5% each. The hat, however, would take using two separate augments -- whereas the ~5% on the ACP body is contained in a single augment.

*Calculates as part of your casting speed, only.
Ex: Minstrel's Ring and Sha'ir Manteel (Manteel has additional 2% Haste effect that applies only to recast timers)

Application: Most useful for reducing the time it takes to buff pt members. Time spent buffing is time not spent pulling, curing, or using -na spells on PT members. In combination with Job Abilities and HQ Instruments, this stat will allow you to spend as little time as possible casting buffs that last as long as possible.

-Song Recast
*Applies only to the recast times of songs.
Ex: Sha'ir Gages (-2 Seconds to all song recast timers) and Sheikh Gages (-4 seconds to all song recast timers)

Applicaton: The single most powerful way outside Bard JA's to reduce the recast timers of your songs. The gages are part of the Sha'ir BRD JSE set available at lvl72. The primary drawback to using the gages is losing 5 singing skill from the AF1 Choral Cuffs (and as much as 10 singing skill if they're AF+1). The general rule of thumb is to wear these when you can reliably land debuffs, and to wear the +skill when you can't. There's an (untested?) rumor that singing skill is more powerful than wind skill, which makes wearing the choral cuffs very attractive in many situations (and they're available much earlier in a bard's career).

These separate effects can be used as tools to achieve a number of desirable bard goals I'll be going over in my next post. They include:
*12-second Lullaby Recast (Applicaton: Dynamis and large links)
*12-second Finale Recast (Application: Sea Jailers, the popular Lamia No.13 Assault, etc.)
*Max -Casting gear (Application: Buffing merit parties)

I'll be treating the Bard Group2 Job Abilities in a separate post on merits.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


A M.Acc+2 Earring! Does it come in a CHR flavor? I'd like one, please. ._.;

Conclusion: Some people have all the luck. And singing earring is wildly overpriced on Lakshmi, these days. Tragedy.

Marduk's Jubbah Set

Expensive Salvage gear. It's also (mostly) good for bard.

The stats in full:
(Image credit

Rough Costs
Head ~3.5million
Body ~10million
Hands ~1million
Legs ~150K
Feet ~170K
*Varies on each server.

Conclusion: Most bang for your buck is the Shalwar. They're a great debuff piece. However, the Marduk's Tiara is the best -- overall -- that you can wear. The Jubbah is nothing to sneeze at, but if you only want it for the Refresh? Dalmatica is 9million cheaper on my server -- to say nothing of V.Cloak. The introduction of Einherjar has made Dalmatica a possibility for many players without needing to camp HNMs. Granted, the abjuration only drops from Odin.

Fast Cast Facts
FFXIclopedia lists the Fast Cast effect of the body as ~5% and the Fast Cast effect of the set as ~10%. Many people add these numbers together and assume that the full set gives you ~15%. This is incorrect. Wearing full Marduk's will net you ~8% actual Fast Cast effect (source: BG). Wearing only a manteel (~11% real song casting) will give you a similar effect for songs only, but will not reduce the casting or recast times of spells like Cure, Stoneskin, and Utsusemi. FFXI calculates Fast Cast and Haste as approximately 1% slower than the effects are labeled. So in order to reach the 50% Haste from gear cap, you'd have to wear a listed 51%-53%, assuming you lose 1% haste from every piece of gear you're wearing.

Full Marduk's set is a personal choice. It is not the fastest possible way to cast songs. It has useful regen and refresh effects. The MP bonus is good. The CHR bonus on the body is excellent. Nothing beats the Marduk's Tiara. Whether or not you want to invest the time and the money in the gear is your choice. On the bright side! If you are lotting Marduk's at this point in time you will probably be the only one who wants the gear. My group often floored Marduk pieces before I joined. Take heart: if you plan to join an experienced Salvage group as a bard, the field is usually wide open.

Site Search & Forums of Interest

If you ever have trouble searching for the information you want in a forum, use Google site search. Yes, I have it bookmarked.

It works beautifully on BG, KI, and Alla without you having to log in or be a member. Just use the domain names (helpfully linked here) and enter your search terms in the second box.

*Warning: Alla is slightly more difficult to search with this method, though you will end up in the ballpark.

Basic Numbers

Things I wish I'd known before I started playing BRD.

Song Durations
2:00 = No instrument
2:00 = +0 Song Instrument (ex. Storm Fife while not in Salvage or Assault)
2:30 = +2 Song Instrument (ex. Faerie Piccolo)

Conclusion: If you sing with a +0 instrument or the wrong instrument, you may as well have been singing with no instrument. The only difference is that with no instrument, you can only have one song effect up at a time. If you have no instrument, you are roughly as effective as someone /BRD.

Application: If you sing Marchx2 and Balladx2 in rapid succession, the Ballads will overwrite each other. Assuming your order was Victory March (2:30) - Advancing March (2:30) - Ballad II (2:00) - Ballad I (2:00) you, and possibly your healer if they were standing in range of march, will end up with Advancing March & Ballad I. It's safest to stick to Pianissimo+BalladII unless you're absolutely sure that your mages are out of range of melee songs. Or reverse your ballad order. But personally? I'm locked into the habit of casting BalladII first.

This is also the reason to buy March, Madrigal, and Minuet instruments if you never buy any others. If you are ever included in a swap rotation you will want the longest song duration you can get so that melee have songs for the full or nearly full duration of the swap.

BRD Skill
The only number that matters is Singing+Instrument. All bard songs are calculated with combined skill. The only thing that matters for buffs is the final number. Singing skill, Wind skill, and String skill are separately irrelevant. The game calculates your effect from the combined total of your numbers. If you are using a wind instrument, that number is Wind+Singing. If you are using a string instrument, that number is String+Singing.

Application: The radius of your buff songs is determined by the level of your skill. At higher levels your songs will have a wider area of effect. Some bards have string skill sets just to ballad mages in Dynamis. When discussing things with other bards, it's also helpful to know what your combined skill number is. Any time I refer to a skill number, it's understood that the number represents Singing+Instrument.

Valor Minuet IV Cap

Base skill at 75: 450
Needed to cap: 462 (+12)

Blade Madrigal Cap Source: Kirschy
Base skill at 75: 450
Needed to cap: 508 (+58)

Application: Functional in merit parties. Minuet and Madrigal merits will noticeably affect how your melee parse in both attack and accuracy. Consider this when you decide to merit. If you merit nothing else on bard, please consider capping minuet and unlocking Nightingale/Troubadour for swaps. These should be minimum requirements for HNM shells. Everyone should aim to hit the Valor Minuet cap, at least!

NB: These numbers assume you are using the +2 instrument. Please use the +2 instrument.

March Tiers - Source: BG and this Blog
NB: These numbers represent Wind Skill + Singing Skill and apply only to Victory March, which is uncapped. The effect of Advancing March is capped.

The first column represents the Haste effect, and the second represents the skill level required. Remember that these are Wind Skill + Singing Skill numbers. Base is 225 Wind + 225 Singing or 450 Skill total.

56/512 : 487-505 (Tier One)
57/512 : 506-512 (Tier Two)
58/512 : 513-532 (Tier Three)
59/512 : 533-545 (Tier Four)
60/512 : 546-552 (Tier Five)
61/512 : 553- (Tier Six)

Application: You have to be wearing +37 skill to break tier one and +56 skill to break tier two. Merits are +32 by themselves. Tier one and tier two are acceptable numbers for above-average bards. Tier four can be reached with perfect gear -Gjallarhorn. Anything above tier four requires Gjallarhorn.

Conclusion: The overall effect is, unfortunately, still tiny. Break tiers for bragging rights and slightly(?) better parses. The effect of Haste and Fast Cast stacks in a nonlinear way that resembles an exponential curve. The more of it you have, the more you get out of it.


For the bored, the not-quite-indifferent, and the curious among the Bards of Vana'diel -- in the hope that it might entertain, encourage, and inform.

*Address any questions to
*Comments are welcome on all entries.