2013
09.13

Final Fantasy XIV has an…interesting history. The original 1.0 launch three years ago was…less than well received.

I think you mean it was the single worst thing to happen in the history of ever.

Err, I wouldn’t got just that far, but it was certainly disappointing. So much so that it was completely stripped down, rewritten, relaunched 3 years later and is likely poised to be the center of an amazing comeback story.

That’s a topic for another time though. The important thing to know is that the game (while not perfect) is pretty damn great right now and I’m going to teach you a little bit about tanking as a Paladin in the new Final Fantasy XIV.

Wait, you’re a tank now? When did that happen? I swear, I don’t even KNOW you anymore.

For a voice in my head, you really don’t pay a lot of attention to what’s going on in my life.

That I do not.

Right. So. Paladin Tanking.

I’ll start by saying that this post is focused mainly on tanking at level 50, but the methods described here are very applicable to lower level tanking, you’ll just be missing a few of the higher level abilities.

First things first: Shield Oath. If you have it, it should be on when you’re tanking. No brainer here, 20% reduced damage, increased enmity.

Enmity?

Ah yes, Enmity. Those of you coming from FFXI will know it as Hate. Those of you from WoW (and many others) will be more familiar with it as Threat. The words are interchangeable (and I will be interchanging them) and the concepts are exactly the same.

Now, let’s lay down some things that are a bit different in FFXIV. Namely Threat mechanics and the Global Cooldown (GCD from now on).

First, Threat: Threat in FFXIV is very, shall we say, old school, for lack of a better term. It requires a bit more effort on the tanks part to hold onto multiple mobs. Healing generates A LOT of threat. Getting hold (and keeping hold) of a run away mob is not as simple as just throwing a Provoke and forgetting about it. This is why your initial pull is so important (more on that in a second).

Second, Global Cooldown: The GCD in FFXIV is 2.5 seconds.

Are you KIDDING me? That’s an eternity! I could make a sandwich in between casts!

Hyperbole aside, 2.5 seconds is certainly longer than the “standard” 1.5. This means your choice of casts matters a lot more and your margin for error becomes much smaller. Don’t worry though, I’ve got you covered.

Before I give you my pull opener I want to lay out the Bread and Butter Tank Combo. AKA, the RoH combo (named for it’s finisher).

Fast Blade —> Savage Blade —> Rage of Halone

This is your big, steady combo that you’ll be working towards once you have everything nice and angry at you. It should be noted that RoH generates the most Threat, even without being combo’d, so remember that if you’re in a pinch.

The Moment of Truth: The opening pull.

The method I’m about to describe to you takes advantage of 2 concepts that I’m coining as GCD Weaving and Flash Weaving.

GCD weaving is the idea of using skills that are not affected by the global cooldown (we have two), while the GCD is in effect. The skills in question are Circle of Scorn and Spirits Within.

Side Note: Provoke is also not on the GCD but is something that should be used situationally, rather than whenever available, and thus doesn’t quite apply to what I’m talking about here.

Flash weaving is simply the idea of slipping casts of Flash in between the steps of your RoH combo.

And now, the pull.

Step 1: Mark the main target.

This is important, because it gives you a reason to yell at your DPS when they attack the wrong target.

Step 2: Pop Fight or Flight (the extra damage really helps with the initial threat) and use Shield Lob.

At this point hope your healer doesn’t put Regen on your right away. Because that’s going to get his face punched by the angry side mobs.

Step 3: Once they are gathered around you: Flash and follow it up with a GCD weaved CoS. Try and position yourself and the mobs so that they are all in front of you (not to the side or behind), so as to get the most from parry and block. Depending on how well you’ve been holding threat so far, you may wish to Flash again.

Step 4: Begin your RoH Combo using Flash Weaving: Which is:
Fast Blade —> Flash —> Savage Blade —> Flash —> Rage of Halone —> Flash (last flash optional).

Take note, you can GCD weave a Spirits Within at any point.

At this point, the mobs should be firmly attached to you and you can move to a more conservative use of Flash (about once per RoH combo). Make sure you continue to weave in CoS and Spirits Within when they are available.

Small tip: When the main target is about to die, feel free to switch to the next target and start your RoH to build up initial threat.

So there you have, the very basics of tanking as a Paladin. Hope this was helpful.

DPS, Heals or Tank. You sir, are still a dork.

Mean but correct as always my friend.

Next time, well, I don’t know…cross-class skills? Cooldown discussion?

2012
10.24

Almost A Classic is a series wherein I take a look at an older game that had all the potential to really make a mark and be remembered. But, for whatever reason, fell short.

Is it far to call it a series when there is only this one right now?

Sure, why not?

Today I take you back to 2004, the game: Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines.

I’ve played less of this than I’d like to have.

First, some history. Bloodlines is based in the World of Darkness (WoD) universe, which was developed by White Wolf Inc for their series of tabletop roleplaying games. Which includes: Vampire, Werewolf and Mage, among a few others. It’s an excellent universe that could be the subject of numerous articles in and of itself (Someday?). For the time being it’s enough to know that Bloodlines, like many of the greatest RPG, has strong roots in tabletop and the mighty D20.

WoD games exclusively use D10s.

Who’s the nerd now?

Still you.

History Note #2. Bloodlines was developed by Troika Games. A company founded by Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky and Jason D. Anderson who are easily best known for their work on the original Fallout.

One of the few things we agree on is that Fallout is frickin brilliant.

Troika released 3 games before going out of business in 2005: Arcanum, Temple of Elemental Evil (neither of which I’ve had the chance to play) and the game we’ll be talking about today: Bloodlines.

Bloodlines has the distinction of being the first 3rd party game to be released using Valve’s Source Engine.

Oh god I’m so bored. 200 words in and you haven’t even gotten to any sort of point yet.

Game good, has flaws?

Nope, that’s it. You’re done. Zaltu’s taking over this intro.

Bloodlines was an amazing RPG. No surprises, you could expect no less with a pedigree like Fallout, right? The game was buggy on release and that hurt it’s original launch and sales which sadly helped lead to the developers going under before they could release enough patches to get the game cleaned up.

Join me while I outline some of the highlights of this RPG gem.

*Drop Mic*

This Guy. Isn’t he the worst?

OK, yeah, that was pretty good.

To steal a line from your most annoying friend, you just got BOOM SUCKA’d

Not a verb.

Your FACE isn’t a verb. BOOM SUCKA’d!

So, Bloodlines. I remember installing the game for the first time on my roommates PC (I was sans gaming PC at the time, a sad couple of years in my life). I remember it because the original game came in one of those larger CDROM cases on 4 CDs.

Ah, the days of insert CD2 to continue install. DVD and digital download you spoil us. Why do you suppose you always had to reinsert CD1 to finish the last 10% of the install?

When you create your character you have your choice of 7 different vampire clans. These come directly from the pen and paper game and are most analogous to “classes” from your more tradition RPGs, although the system is more skill based and clans really just determine which skills you have the most affinity for. Clans also have the potential to change the game from slight to large degrees, particularly the Malkavian and Nosferatu, more on that later.

More games need Character Sheets.


Playing out in 1st (or 3rd) person with real time combat, the first thought would be to compare Bloodlines gameplay to Morrowwind or Oblivion, but that isn’t quite accurate.

For one, the combat is not near as smooth as in those games (and that’s saying something)

And for two, combat is much, much less important. You don’t receive experience from combat, only completing quests. Bloodlines also shows off it’s Fallout ancestry by offering multiple ways to solve each quest, with the non-combat options often offering more experience than their combat counterparts.

I, for one, miss this level of options in quest completion. Fallout: New Vegas got closer than Fallout 3 (which I still loved), but neither came close to matching the number of options of the original Fallouts and Bloodlines carries the torch nicely.

I’m not going to go into details on the story itself, except to say that it’s well worth your time. I will also say that Bloodlines contains the single best Haunted House section of any game I’ve ever played. I was legitimately scared during my playthrough.

Yeah, it awesome. You got up and turned the lights on. I was cool though.

I’m going to lose a night of sleep just from remembering this place


This was years ago, and you didn’t even exist at the time. I hadn’t yet had the nervous breakdown from which you spun off. You’re a relatively new delusion.

Keep telling yourself that chief.

Part of me wants to keep meandering around on various happenings within the game itself but I’m think I’m going to wrap it up with a quick rundown of how the different clans can add a lot of replay. Notable the Nosferatu and Malkavian.

The Nosferatu are your hideous and deformed vampires. Your monsters. While they are by no means more feral or violent than any of the others their appearance prevents them from interacting with normal society.

Don’t you just want to hug them?


Because of this, playing through as a Nossy offers up a new experience due to the limitations. You have to travel through the sewers and alleyways, you can’t talk to most humans (and thus you are actually blocked from some quests).

It’s not perfect, there are some points that are required for the main quest where the NPC will just make a comment about your “skin condition” but that’s a minor gripe.

NOOOO! MY IMMERSION!!

The Malkavians, the put it as simply has possible. Are batshit insane. The gimmick of this particular clan is they all have some sort of mental illness: Schizophrenia, Paranoid Delusions, etc.

Snappy dresser though, right? No?

Playing through as a Malk you get access to completely “new” dialogue options.

Stress the quotes around new reallllly hard.

Yes, well, the Malk dialogue tends to be hard to follow. It’s full of Non sequiturs, sudden tone changes and just outright bonkers imagery.

Bonkers? Really?

What? It’s a good word. I’m going to say it again. Bonkers.

Because of this the Malk playthrough can be quite entertaining for awhile. Unfortunately, the NPCs rarely seem to give more that a superficial reaction to your strange diction and upon closer examination it appears that the dialogue choices aren’t so much new, as they are just a replacement of other clans dialogue options (different words, exact same result).

In all fairness, I’m not certain how else you’d do it without creating a whole new game just for the Malks.

Alright, wrap it up or I’ll wrap it up for you.

Bloodlines is actually remembered very fondly nowadays by those that have played it. My understanding is that has done very well with it’s Steam re-release and there is still a rather strong mod community some 8 years later.

If you’re a fan of Deus Ex, Fallout 1 & 2, and the like and you haven’t given Bloodlines a try, I’d suggest an immediate download.

So very true.

Also, Happy Halloween, I guess

2012
10.19

I’ve been playing The Secret World a little bit.

We’ve been playing The Secret World.

Oh lord, am I really going to try to do this bit again?

People like it.

I’m not sure that they do. Anyway: The Secret World.

I tried to get into The Secret World during the beta. Twice.

My memories of that involve taking a nap while you ran around confused and bored.

That sums it up pretty nicely. Simply put: I was not impressed by TSW in the beta, even though I really tried to be. After that, I wrote the game off and basically ignored it when it launched.

It was pretty easy to ignore. Does that game even have a Marketing Department? I swear I thought it was a browser game for the longest time.

A couple weeks ago my good friend gave my arm a firm enough twist that I gave TSW another shot. I’m glad that I did. The developers did a nice job of putting some “oomph” into the combat (something that was sorely missing in the beta) and with some guidance I was able to understand the game enough that I eventually “got it”.

There is, of course, a problem with that. You may have notice that I said with some guidance. I’m not entirely certain I would have been able to understand the game and get rolling along without some of the more abstract things being told to me.

Like how in the beta you didn’t even realize you could use two weapons at the same time?

Right. Now, I may just be dense — you are — but I just felt like that was never explained in the tutorials.

In the same vein, I also thought that Sprint wasn’t properly revealed. There are no mounts in TSW, but you have the Sprint ability, which is upgrade-able. You push X. Sprint makes a fair amount of sense for a modern setting but is a little boring as a whole.

I’d personally like a Seqway.

Let’s move on to something positive.

But you’re so good at being a whiny noob.

You know we’re the same person right?

Debatable.

OK, sure. So, some positive things:

The World. Funcom has crafted a really in depth lore and the world really does feel “alive”. There’s a strong feeling that there is something going on that is above and beyond yourself and I’m enjoying pulling back the veil.

The Characters are fun and very memorable for the most part.

There’s a particular character on the Illuminati side that only speaks to you over an intercom and then seems to only speak in semi-dated internet memes. I’m on the fence.

I kinda hate that I love him.

The thing to take away from the characters really, is that I took something away from them. I paid attention to them and listened to what they had to say and found myself letting out a small chuckle or even “hmm..interesting” as they talked.

——

Everything above was written about a month ago, early September. I had just gotten into TSW and they were just about to release Issue #2, which included the Dungeon/Group Finder.

This was of particular excitement to me since I love running dungeons but I hate the process of finding a pick up group.

I think you just hate interacting with people in general.

Well…in a sense…

Did you see what I did there? “in general”, “in General”. As in General Chat. Ahhh wordplay.”

Yeah, great. So I like dungeons, but hate the act of finding a group. Therefor dungeon finder = greatness.

As much as I hate to admit it, your math is pretty solid there.

So I had my build all ready and I was super psyched to heal me some Secret World dungeons.

BOOM. Suck on that week patch delay.

I haven’t logged in since. Let me quickly say that I’m in no way endorsing quitting a game simply because a patch was late. I’m a vocal proponent of calming down and letting the developers do their thing. I’m happy to wait if it means a better product.

So why did I stop logging in?

I just don’t know. Maybe I was starting to feel a little on the fence about the game as a whole and I was really banking on the dungeons to fill in that missing piece. So, after a week off I never really had a strong pull to go back.

I am going to go back. I think TSW deserves that. And that is the point I’ve been meandering towards since I started this post in September.

We’re all waiting with bated breath.

The Secret World deserves a fair shake from everybody. If only for one reason:

It’s different.

Also you heal people by shooting them with an assault rifle.

If you’re on the fence, give it a try.

Those of you that are already playing, I think we can agree on one thing: “Fuck Blue Mountain.”

Yeah, fuck that place.

2010
08.24

My New Project

So it has been awhile.

Did you miss me? It’s ok to admit it, it’s ok, show the love, internet hugs all around.

I didn’t miss you.

Who asked you?

Anyways, so I’ve got a new project going and you should probably check it out. Scratch that, you should definitely check it out.

FTW Broadcasting

Dual Starcraft 2 commentary with more games to come in the future (likely League of Legends when their replay system gets implemented).

<3
-Zaltu

2009
11.23

So Long, Farewell

It has been just over a year since the launch of Wrath of the Lich King and just over a year since I started blogging in earnest.

I’m sad to say that after a year, I just don’t have it in me anymore. I am sure you’ve seen it happening over the last few months, the quantity and quality of my posts have been waning. What you may not have seen is that this has been in direct correlation with the decline of my interest in the game as a whole. So it is with a heavy heart that I am laying down my daggers (in my mind, they were always daggers) and saying goodbye to the World of Warcraft.

I’d like to thank everyone who left comments or sent me emails asking questions or just thanking me for my site. It meant a lot to know that I was helping people and made me feel like I really succeeded with this little blogging experiment.

I have thoughts of relaunching this blog in the new year with a new theme, a scatter-shot of themes probably. Other video games, table-top roleplaying, all the other things I love; maybe just talk of this rogue’s journey through life. Who knows.

Keep Rogueing My Brethren and Sisteren
<3
Zaltu

2009
11.18

Hello, hello, hello and (you guessed it) hello. It’s been a busy time for me lately (Dragon Age isn’t going to play itself) and a not so busy time to be a rogue. Things haven’t really changed and there isn’t a whole lot that is going to change for us in patch 3.3. Have no fear though, you’ll be hearing from me on patch day with all the wonderful info you need to know to keep stabby-stabbing things with the best of them.

Speaking of patch 3.3, it’s time for my now (in)famous guess of the patch drop day.

Drum roll please…..

Tuesday, December 1st.

2009
10.21
/equipslot 17 [Dagger With Deadly Poison]
/equipslot [modifier:shift] 17 [Dagger With Wound or Instant Poison]

There you have it, a quick and easy macro for weapon swapping.

Awesome, we’re done here. Let’s go eat some Halloween candy!

No can do, voice in my head, we’re not done here.

Are you sure about that?

Damn sure, we still have to explain what weapon swapping is and how/when/why to do it.

Oh, well can I eat candy?

Knock yourself out.

If you’ve had your ears open to a lot of the recent rogue chatter you may have heard the term “weapon swapping” being thrown around a lot lately.

What is weapon swapping exactly?

Weapon swapping is switching your offhand weapon when you have a full 5 stack of Deadly Poison to another weapon with a strong (Wound or Instant depending on your spec) poison and then quickly switching back to your deadly offhand to refresh the stacks.

Why would we do this? Well, the same reason we do anything: If done properly it can be a nice boost to your DPS.

Sounds awesome, how do I start? Well, you need a couple of things to be successful at weapon swapping:

  • Two Similar (preferably identical) offhand weapons
  • Low Latency
  • Quick Reflexes
  • The ability to keep track of another timer with razor sharp accuracy

These last two are really really important because if you aren’t timing it right and you let the deadly poison stacks drop off then you will actually be hurting your DPS.

So, if you have all these things, give weapon swapping a shot but remember to practice, practice practice.

Alert – INCOMING EXPERIMENTAL PATCH 3.3 PTR TIP – Alert – THIS TIP IS EXTREMELY EXPERIMENTAL AND HAS NOT BEEN TESTING – Alert

You’re probably not familiar with the weapon enchant Black Magic. Currently it causes your damaging spell to cause a DOT but on the PTR it increases your haste rating whenever you deal spell damage.

What does this mean for rogues? Well, poisons will proc this effect. Is this enchant better than berserking then? No, BUT, using weapon swapping (provided you have enough weapons laying around) you could possibly swap in an offhand with black magic, wait for the proc, then swap back to your berserking offhand and then repeat this action when the internal cooldown of black magic is up.

Sounds nifty, keep a eye out for this one.

2009
10.12

In my quick (p)review of the T10 set bonuses I made a bit of an offhanded comment about the rupture-less cycle. Boy did I open up a can of worms with this one.

Did your offhand comment at least give you a combat potency proc?

I hate you so much. Was that really necessary?

It made me laugh.

I’m sure it did.

Was it necessary for you to mention a cycle that most people shouldn’t be doing yet, thus making them excited and possibly confused?

Touche.

Now, about this rupture-less cycle I mentioned, a lot of you emailed me requesting information about the cycle. I was hesitant to mention it earlier since, for the most part, you generally will not have the gear to support it but since I let it slip and now everyone is all curious, I’ll elaborate.

First, here is the spec for this cycle (substituting your weapon of choice):
15/51/5

So, the rupture-less cycle is really that, you drop rupture out of your cycle in favor of eviscerate. Why didn’t I bring this up is that it requires extremely high levels of gear (with lots of armor pen) before this cycle surpasses the rupture cycle.

So, when should I use the rupture-less cycle? Well, ask yourself a few questions.

Am I wearing 4 piece T8?
If yes, then no chance, rupture criting is too good to pass up.

What’s my Armor Pen?
I’m not going to give you a hard number but I will says that if I switched all my Agi gems for Armor Pen, I’d have 366 Armor Pen and I still wouldn’t be close to the number I needed to switch over to this new cycle.

So how do I know when to switch?
Well, you have to use a spreadsheet to be absolutely sure. I hear some groaning in the crowd. I’m sorry but please put your pitchforks down. Aldriana over at Elitist Jerks has created a wonderful Combat Spreadsheet that I find is very easy to use. Download it here.

So there you have it, the elusive rupture-less cycle I mentioned. Sorry it’s not as interesting as it could be. The truth is, you probably don’t need to worry about it, at least not yet. Don’t worry though, when you do, I’ll let you know.

2009
10.08

Rogue T10 Set Bonus

The rogue T10 set bonus have been revealed thanks to some happy data-mining gnomes. First things first, let’s give the standard disclaimer here that this are from the PTR and may change slightly of completely.

With that out of the way, let me just say:
OMG OMG OMG GIMME GIMME GIMME I WANTZ IT!

*ahem* excuse me. As you could probably tell, I’m more than a little excited about these set bonus. After the very disappointing T9, it’s nice to see a set bonus I actually want! (In all fairness, T8 4p was just too good for T9 to really have a chance). So what are these wonderful set bonuses? Let’s look shall we:

Rogue T10 2P Bonus – Gives your melee finishing moves a 13% chance to add 3 combo points to your target.

WOW, this is just really nice. Three free combo points is lip-smackingly good. I suspect that by this point in the gear progression most of us will be moving to the high armor-pen rupture-less cycle and this will be a wonderful a addition to this, hell, it would be a wonderful addition to any cycle.

Rogue T10 4P Bonus – Your Tricks of the Trade ability now grants you 15 energy instead of costing energy.

Very Nice. Very Very Nice. Placing tricks of the trade on another dps (usually another rogue) was always something that lowered our personal dps to the benefit of increased raid DPS (generally the other rogue would return the favor, thus giving up a boost as well). But now! But now my friends! Free energy! Who could say no to gaining 15 energy from an ability that used to cost 15 energy that you use on every cooldown? No on, that’s who.

Give them to me. I needs them.

Side Note: Did you see how they are fixing Vanish? What can I say, when I’m right I’m right.

Side-Side Note: Thank you for all the wonderful emails I’ve been getting. I’ve been doing my absolute best to try and get back to each and everyone but it is a losing battle overall. E-hearts all around.

2009
09.28

All has been pretty quiet in the world of Rogue’s lately but our favorite crab just dropped a little tidbit of information to whet our appetites

We have a change for Vanish in place for 3.3. You will get to try it out soon ™. As promised, if it proves a significant buff to rogues, we may have to compensate elsewhere. Just because it hasn’t worked as intended doesn’t mean it will be balanced when it does.

Interesting. What is this fix? Will it work? Will it be awesome? Questions abound. The smart money (my money) is on a short immunity period after you cast vanish to keep you from getting knocked out immediately. You heard it here first(ish).