Heren Istarion

Mara and I adventuring last night. We ran a bunch of story and side quests, prepping for Haukke Manor! 

The Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak

Puddings and psychedelic plants!

Alright, that’s out of my system for the moment. The Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak (I’ll just call it Maws from here on) was kind of annoying the first run, and more fun the second. The first run we had to backtrack a bit because we didn’t have enough photocells. Everybody in the party was new to the dungeon except our Summoner, who seemed foggy on it at best. There are lots of side passages, and not all are necessary but many do contain treasure coffers. Note I have yet to receive gear loot from these side passage coffers, just money and standard item loot. I like to get all the chests anyway, but if you want to rush through I don’t think you’ll miss much. 

Something to be aware of in Maws is the spider web wall traps. When someone passes through these openings (identified by webbing all around their perimeter) they’ll seal off with spider webs. If you get stuck on the wrong side, attack the web to open it up again. You can’t heal through the webs so make sure everybody makes it through before you pick a fight. 

Fleshy Pods are also around here, and if you get close they explode all over your party (yuck). Shoot them from a distance to remove the danger. You’ll come to areas with green slime on the floor, like the dungeon has a bad sinus infection. This stuff can’t always be avoided, but note it will slow you when passing through it.

On to the boss fights. You collect photocells as you progress through the dungeon, once you have 4 you can interact with the Magitech Terminals you find. The first, in the Chamber of Confession, spawns Coeurl O’Nine Tails. It’s not particularly difficult, but be mindful of the poison. Healers, get your Esuna ready, and tanks get ready to pull this jerk off whomever he aggros when he spawns, then beat him down. 

Next up is… déjà vu! Another Coeurl O’Nine Tails, this time in a room called The Fool’s Rest Chamber. This one has adds midway through the fight though, so DPS them down quickly. Healers, watch party health here because sometimes things get nuts with all the poison flying around. 

And, for the grand finale, the mighty Grafflas!

I feel like this is the most complex fight Final Fantasy XIV has thrown at us up until this point in a dungeon. There’s a lot going on here, but if you control the chaos, it’s a lot of fun. Things to know:

When you swagger on in to the arena (you can see our pre-swagger family portrait just above. We stare down Grafflas, he stares down us.) he’ll surround the area with fleshy pods. These nuisances explode just like the ones earlier, so range attack them to minimize damage. This fight moves around a lot, and Grafflas will knock your tank around with knock-back, so clearing out the pods will help everyone. 

Even if you take out all the initial pods, we’re not done with them yet. Periodically Grafflas will choose a party member and shake his tail at them and shoot a Fleshy Pod at their feet. Stay alert and move away from these and dispatch just like the other pods. 

As if those damn pods weren’t enough, Grafflas will also call on some adds to help wreck your flow. Tank, get threat on these things as soon as possible, and DPS take them down. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re not mindful of the extra mobs. 

We’re not done, yet! Midway through the fight, Grafflas’ tail becomes a separate target and he starts dropping green goo everywhere. Tank, re-position him out of the goo. Now, you can choose to end the goo madness by taking out the tail, or you can just burn through Grafflas and end the fight. Both runs we have done so far, we did the latter. The goo is a pain, but the health was dropping sufficiently fast that it seemed OK to skip taking the tail out by itself. As healer, I had to spam Medica a couple times to keep up with the party damage, but it wasn’t too stressful. Just watch those HP bars! 

This catches up to where Mara and I are currently in the game. I spent yesterday — once I eventually got in game — crafting. I took the log in issues as a sign lots of people were hammering the servers for the U.S. holiday. I was cool with it though, it gave me some time to write and do some house cleaning. Hopefully this maintenance  is the end of our log in troubles. My goal is to hit level 19 carpentry so I can start slotting materia. I’ll have a post on crafting soon.

As always, happy FFXIVing! :)

I love this screenshot from one of our The Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak runs. Write up on the dungeon coming soon

I love this screenshot from one of our The Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak runs. Write up on the dungeon coming soon

Halatali: Experience & Walkthrough

Nearly caught up with where we are in game. Halatali became one of my favorites, and we ran it a good number of times. Originally a training ground, this dungeon has some neat fights. I enjoyed that it is cohesive yet offers varying environments to keep things interesting. 

I’d like to jump right into boss fights, but I will give one warning about general threats in Halatali: Wandering bombs. Watch for these guys and do your best to DPS them down, if you don’t…well you know what happens. BOOM! Stay out of that red circle, folks. 

Boss fights. First up is Firemane.

This is a fairly straight forward battle, Firemane will use fire attacks, but nothing that really puts you under much pressure. One thing that can get out of hand is that as the fight progresses is the slow release of Damantus and Noxious wisps. These adds come from doors around the room’s perimeter. You’ll know they’re coming because the fire pit will glow brighter. If they reach the center of the room they blow up damaging everybody. Alone, not so bad, but if a lot of them start going off it can get tough to manage. Luckily they have few hitpoints and are easy to take down. 

Next is Thunderclap Guivre. 

The strategy for this fight is pretty much illustrated in the above screenshot. Fight him from the ramp. Don’t get in the water. His name is Thunderclap after all, and when there’s thunder there’s lightning. I think you get it. Three times in this fight he’ll go invulnerable and move back to the center of the arena. Don’t follow, because he’s about to spawn lightning elementals. Pull them over to the ramp and watch for AOE attacks. 

Once you take down Thunderclap, you will clash with a surprise! You’ll enter what looks to be an arena with nothing but a few wandering mobs guarding a treasure in the center. Really, this is where the Peiste is waiting.

He’s not hard on his own, but if you run in with out knowing he’s there and aggro everything all at once, it gets harder than it has to be. Stay out of the circle that takes up most of the room and pull what you can from the entry way before triggering the fight. There’s nothing tricky here beyond his surprise appearance. 

Finally, we have Tangata. This fine chap is something of a Thunderclap Firemane hybrid. Certainly not in looks mind you, only in mechanics. 

I’m sorry for not having a better photo of the boss himself, but this is a decent look at the arena. Those torches will spawn wisps, and just like the Firemane fight, you’ll want to take them down. Tangata himself has an an invulnerability mode linked to the spawning of the Fire Sprites coming out of the torches, take them down and continue the Tangata beat down. When Tangata is invulnerable he’ll be surrounded by lava. As the old saying goes: stay out of the fire. 

We had a lot of fun with this dungeon and there were more than few solid pieces of loot for all classes in our party. Mara grew talented at taking down the adds quickly as they spawned so the rest of the party could focus on other things. It’s one of those MMO teamwork moments that will make you feel good when you realize the fight seemed easy because everybody did their job. We’re currently playing The Thousand Maws of Toto Rak, we’ve done two runs so far, so expect a write up there soon. 

Happy FFXIVing! 

Random screenshot I thought was cool :)

Random screenshot I thought was cool :)

Copperbell Mines: Experience & Walkthrough

Well, we’ve been playing so much lately (yay weekends) that Copperbell Mines seems like it was ages ago. I’d like to get caught up to where Mara and I are now, so to that end, this is going to be a brief write up. Copperbell deserves a post, though, so skipping it just would not feel right! 

First, this place looks like a mine. 

That’s Mara’s Archer looking back at me in the above shot. Lalafell Dunesfolk and Elezen Wildwood - an unlikely but happy couple. I like how Copperbell looks. Mine environments are somewhat common in MMO games and it’s easy for them to get boring fast, this one stays interesting. It has a fun explosive dynamic, where you collect powder to fill a blast chamber, then use a blast device to blow through the wall. It also has surprise Gigas attacks! 

These beastly mofos will, if I remember correctly, surprise your party twice. They burst through the walls and come out swinging. As you can imagine a hammer that big has a broad swing, so watch out for AOE attacks and, tanks, try to keep him faced away from your party. 

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall," is what they say to scenes like this, right? 

Ok, enough Gigas brawl shots, let’s talk boss fights. The two that matter, in my mind, are the Ichorous Ire and of course the final fight with Gyges the Great. The Ichorous Ire (I call it Blobby) is a blob of green slime who wants to make your life a miserable pain. The trick to beating him isn’t so bad once you get it down, but it’s one that’s always dangerous. 

What you can’t see in the above screenshot is that the blob is sitting on a magma rock, and you can see beside him is another blast device. When this device is used a Bomb mob will spawn. It’s important to not kill the bombs, keep them next to Ichorous Ire. You may notice, beating on the blob doesn’t do much, that’s because it’s the bombs that will kill this bastard. Or, rather, set it up so you can. Let the bombs get tired out, as they’re want to do, and explode. You and your party should get the hell out of the red circle, but keep Ichorous in it. When the bomb explodes it will split Blobby into smaller Blobbies. You need to do this three times, once done you will have 8 Blobblies having a Blobby party who are on longer invulnerable. DPS those guys down and end the fight.

Watch for Spriggan adds that will try to ruin your bomb strategy. Healers, keep an eye on everyone’s health since the tank will be taking damage from the Ichorous Ire and your DPS  will probably take some heat from the Spriggans that spawn. 

Now, the final fight, Gyges the Great! This guy is a giant Gigas. Gyges, Gigas, coincidence? I don’t know. Anyway, this guy is almost a tank and spank brawl, with one exception. But first, photo op!

I love how the Mines eventually come to this cavernous area where the rocks have an effect that look similar to the colors that come when chemicals or oils are in water. 

Gyges is a big guy with an even bigger hammer. He was, apparently, worried that whatever he hit with it wouldn’t be sufficiently crushed to death. So, it also has some lovely spikes. You’ll note there are two ?? bits of rock here. One, Gyges will definitely smash open. If there’s a way to stop that - I haven’t found it. The second rock wall with a health bar you should absolutely try to prevent from opening. The adds that come from the first hole will always make a bee-line for the second piece of fragile wall. When you see these guys coming, in the words of Aragorn at the battle of Helms Deep: “Legolas! Bring him down!” Except, replace “Legolas,” with “DPS!” If those guys open up that second wall, all the adds coming through both holes join the fight and make taking out Gyges a harder chore than it has to be. Keep the second bit of wall intact and this fight’s not so bad. 

We loved Copperbell, and we ran it multiple times and got some nice loot. I wish I’d remembered to write about it sooner, but this post seems to have gone on long enough despite that. 

Happy FFXIVing :)

Tam-Tara Deepcroft: Experience

Hot damn, another solid early dungeon! We had an excellent party for this run. The tank paid a great deal of attention to holding aggro, no tunnel vision issues like last time. When a monster ran off, he knocked it around until it came back. I’m a little ashamed to say the only moments where I found myself heal spamming to catch his health up were ones where I was trying to get some good screenshots. Nobody died, though, so all’s well that ends well. I have a feeling in harder dungeons down the road I’ll have to be more careful about hiding the UI just for a pretty picture. 

This dungeon felt - aesthetically - like playing a game of D&D, which is a good thing in my mind. I loved the feeling of exploring old ruins, overrun by time and nature, and corrupted by evil. 

Running down the torch-lit halls felt like a real dungeon, the kind that in a table-top game is basically there just to kill you at every turn. FFXIV dungeons of course aren’t trapped and there are no insta-kill cheap shots, but the mood is there and that goes a long way. 

Our Thaumaturge did an excellent job with crowd control in this dungeon, expertly using sleep on any mob that got away from the tank - and especially any mob that came towards me (a healer’s best friend). Mara is really coming into her own with her Archer, learning how to cycle and time her attacks to the benefit of the party. I’m pretty proud of how she has taken to the game, in fact it was her idea that we jump in on Tam-Tara and then after roll right into Copperbell Mines. Whenever your fiance says “Let’s do the next dungeon,” as a gamer, it’s a happy moment. 

And, can I just say how much Galvanth reminds me of a Mindflayer? Being a D&D nerd, as soon as he showed himself I was doing a happy dance in my chair and thinking “Ahhh yea, here we go!” 

Tam-Tara Deepcroft: Walkthrough

Last night we ran Tam-Tara Deepcroft, the second dungeon after Sastasha. I love that these dungeons have been lined up in the story line one after another, we ended up rolling right through to Copperbell Mines after Tam-Tara, but I’ll give that its own post later. 

Tam-Tara is southwest of Bentbranch in Central Shroud outside Gridania, if you started in Gridania you’ll surely remember the area from other quests you completed early on in the game. Most people will see the opening scene and think “Oh, I bet we have to stop those smaller orbs from feeding into that big one,” and they’d be right.

As you make your way through the dungeon you’ll find Cultist Orbs guarded by Gravediggers (they look like Imps) and of course, Cultists. I recommend taking out the Gravedigger’s first, because once you defeat the Cultist that hangs out with them he’ll turn into the true mini-boss a Void Soulcounter - the ugly dude pictured below.

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Healers look out: you might have gone into easy mode thinking during the Cultist/Gravedigger battle, but the Soulcounter’s hit harder. So watch your tank’s health. They’re not hard to heal against, or to defeat, but be aware it’s going to change your heal rate a bit. Once you take out the Void Soulcounter, someone needs to interact with the Cultist Orb to destroy it. 

You’ll find the last two Orbs sealed by a barrier. This can be deactivated by grabbing the Cultist Rosary near by and then interacting with the barrier to bring it down. (Cultist Rosary room pictured below)

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 You’ll then be able to slaughter the enemies behind the barrier, and the ensuing Void Soulcounter, and deactivate the final two orbs. 

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Now the good stuff, the final boss fight, Galvanth the Dominator! 

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This guy means business, so keep an eye out for his AOE attack that causes paralysis (stay out of those red circles). Also note there will be 3 waves of extra enemies. Take the Imps out first, the first wave should just be one Imp, but the next waves add extra mobs and eventually an extra Imp along with the extra mobs. 

This game has such beautiful views. 

Sastasha: The Experience

As I mentioned at the beginning of the walkthrough description of Sastasha, this was really Mara’s first experience with an MMO dungeon, and the first Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn dungeon experience for us both. We ended up running the dungeon twice, after the first run a second was necessary so we could run it with a friend who’d just logged in and was waiting. The first run really did go without a hitch. It was a good simple introduction to what I’d described to her as the dungeon experience. The tank held aggro, I healed, and she (an Archer)  and our Arcanist DPS’d the hell out of everything. It was smooth sailing. The second run was a little more trying, but it served as an example for the difference between a solid party and a weak party. 

Our second party tank had tunnel vision and did not do a great job holding aggro or grabbing monsters that lost aggro. He would focus only on one monster and let everything else attack the rest of the party. So, as healer, I spent a lot of time quickly swapping heals between all party members to keep every one alive and having to spam Medica when shit really hit the fan. We made it through, though, and I took it as good practice monitoring health bars and cycling through the party and timing my heals. Mara did die once in this run, and it was only because everyone but the tank got aggro’d by adds. I made the mistake of not dropping Medica in time to save her, but it worked out and after the mobs were taken down I raised her and we went on our way. The point I think is you can learn a lot about your class when things go wrong, even through frustrating moments where we wondered “What’s he doing?”  as our tank stood idly in a corner or corridor, or ran away from the party mid fight. 

The dungeon itself is beautiful, a series of underwater caves with wonderful luminous coral. You’ll walk through shallow waters reflecting all manners of colorful light, and the Shade Seeker enemies hover like lanterns near the glowing clams that spawn them. I wish I had taken some screen shots, and will be tonight of the next dungeon Tam Tara. 

After we had logged off, Mara asked about my experiences with other MMO’s and why I find dungeons to be fun. I focused mainly on the exhilarating and satisfying feeling of a party that clicks and moves like clockwork. There’s something special about MMO’s when you get a party together that knows each individual role and how to execute that during each encounter. When the party steam rolls through a dungeon barely having to stop because there’s a synergy it’s an awesome feeling. I hope she got a little taste of that last night and I hope for more in the future, because FFXIV: ARR clearly is built to offer such experiences.