Driving around where I live is such a fucking bitch! I live near a retail area, which for 11 months of the year is utterly awesome (pet store, grocery, movie theater, dozens of restaurants and fast food, Best Buy/Target/Wal-Mart, etc.), I have access to all this while remaining snugly tucked away living on a golf course. But every year December makes me want to move, there are just way too many people on the road. I had to stop carrying a hammer and baseball bat in my car for fear I might be inclined to use one of them (don't ask why they were there to begin with). However, because of all the traffic about the only time I venture off the golf course this time of year is to go to work and the grocery, which means I have a lot more time to play FFXI. Except this week. It's also fucking Nutcracker season and every damn theatre group in town is putting on some form of this damn show (yeah, Drakus knows this whole fucking play by heart and he's not happy about it). My sister is the principle ballerina in one of these and I volunteered to be the stage hand for this. I also volunteered to help one of the childrens theatre groups with their set designs. They are doing some odd Wizard of Oz/Nutcraker show, I assume the two plays are separated, but the sets kind of lead me two wonder if it isn't a mash-up of some sort (the ballroom scene in the Nutcracker, for example, has a yellow brick road leading to it). At any rate I have to keep blowing things off in FFXI, but come next Monday things should settle back down, not to mention I'll be off for Christmas week.
Four tries and we still have not beat this, our best effort came on Sunday when we managed to get the BLM down to 3%, fucking bitch raged at 10% that led to a wipe. I think we need another DD, three mages has been nice, but we just can't seem to do enough damage to put us over the top. Honestly, when it comes to the fight I'd be more than willing to keep fighting it until we got it right if it didn't mean running around the Den of Rancor collecting the damn hexes every time we lose. It's frustrating and honestly doesn't seem to be worth the trouble when you look at the reward because the pants are meh.
After our last run was jacked there was some discussion during that run about what we planned to do about it. I forget the details, but somebody had said something that led me to respond with "we'll do something a little more sinister than that". My thought at the time was jacking one of their runs, but as I didn't know who the leader was the only thing I could think to do was keep an eye on the shouts in WG and try to show up before them. As it turns out I wasn't the only one thinking about this and thankfully someone (Q) knew who we were after and where they were going to be. Essentially we came to the same conclusion, but Q being who he is was much quicker to act and proposed we jack their next Xarcabard run. And thus began my Sunday.
The plan was to have people who weren't already signed up to do Valkrum show up early (like 7:30 AM my time, which is earlier than when I get up for work) in Xarcabard. We were going to enter 30-60 minutes before they were scheduled to go in and then try to get all the time extensions. As it turns out another group was already in Xarc and this pushed us back an hour, so Q was standing at the markings when the other group started showing up. What occurred next was as comical as it was classic. The leader of the other shell started sending Qtipus tells which went like this:
Aatst: me go @ 1h
Q: No you're not.
There was a bunch of back and forth between them with Q refusing to give any ground. Meanwhile, as this is going on, Qtipus is maneuvering Yot's mule to the trail markings in the Glacier with the intent of jacking that zone too. After some jockeying back and forth Aatst asks Qtipus if he wants to /random Xarcabard, Q tells him no and then /blists him. About five minutes later they start leaving, giving up the fight despite the fact the outnumber us three to one. My guess is they feel like we were just a bunch of asshole Americans and it wasn't worth the fight (for the record about a third of Obsidian is EU). At this point we have roughly 45 minutes before the other group finishes. They head to the Glacier where, lo and behold, Yot's mule is waiting for them! Unfortunately Q had to make a choice at this point because if he jacked the Glacier in front of them there was a chance they'd come back to Xarc and actually put up a fight. The Glacier was small potatoes, taking Xarc from them was the point we were really trying to make, so we ceded the Glacier and let them have it. A minor disappointment but our primary goal was met regardless.
So the run itself consisted of 16-18 people (a couple people had to leave early, a couple folks joined us late) and as we've never low-manned Xarc before there wasn't really much strategy going in, aside from get all the extensions. This led to some really wild sacing (from Kimi) and odd pulls, but we pulled it off. Let me repeat that a little more clearly, we got all the Xarc extensions with 16ish people, meaning, among other things, we cleared the 15 demon NMs. That just blows my mind and really shows just how skilled the shell has become. Which is ironic considering the two nostalgic posts that have been posted from two of the people who were there in the beginning, Qtipus and Kaeko (I recommend reading both their takes on the early history of Obsidian as they were both great reads).
Dynamis wasn't the only low man craziness I was involved in this week. Limbus threw us a curveball that forced us to make some adjustments on the fly also. Our plan last night had been to do a split run between Ap SW and Ap NW. Southwest was going to be a standard tank with DDs and support run with 12 people (I think they ended up with 13, not certain) and Northwest was going to be a manaburn with our BLMs. Team SW was able to enter and get to work right away, however, Team NW got ganked and we were left with a decision to make. We had to either call it a night for the six of us or go to another zone with the set-up we had. I was ready to call it because I honestly didn't think that our other option, Southeast, could be manaburned. Hood wanted to give it a go anyway, so I relented, but added that we'd call it if the death toll started getting out of control.
The plan was basically to gravity/sleep/bind, then nuke the shit out of the mobs. I was worried about the rocs and gigas going in, the rocs can lay down some serious damage very quickly, and one of the gigas was immune to magic. As it turns out my worries were justified. The first floor went smoothly as we were dealing around 1k damage each with our nukes. On the second floor the vultures were easy kills, but the first roc got really pissed and I ended up as bird food. That said, it wasn't a total disaster and with a bit of readjusting the second roc got pummeled and up we went. The third floor is pots and dolls and this is where we lucked out a bit as the first doll we killed opened the vortex. We grabbed the time extensions and headed up to the gigas floor. Hood pulls the first gigas (Cronos) which was the one immune to physical damage and we whooped its ass, no vortex. With that, we grabbed the one immune to ranged damage, once again we whooped its ass and...no vortex. That meant we had to kill the gigas that is immune to magic if we wanted to continue. With 4 BLMs, a COR and a SCH. Needless to say, the next 15 minutes consisted of three of us chasing Hyperion around, getting what damage we could with our feeble weapons, while the other three kept applying DoTs. We slowly whittled it down and had seven minutes left on the clock. But wait. We still had two time chests left, so we got to the final floor with 17 minutes remaining and easily dispatched the dahmels for an supremely gratifying win. We won, despite the two things I was worried about happening, with a six-man manaburn group and only two deaths.
I'm very happy that the skill level of our players has developed to the point we can do things like this, because six months ago I'd have said no way in hell it could be done in our shell. So let it be said, not only can you manaburn NW, but you can also manaburn SE, expect us to try this on NE and SW in the future.