This is why I tank.

You want some? YOU WANT SOME?
You want some? YOU WANT SOME?
Kasul came on tonight after work. I had wasted a lot of time tonight getting my camera all set up to catch the Venus/Jupiter convergence (no dice; thanks clouds) and I'm not sure what else, but I logged in kinda late.

Omuro and I did Haukke Manor with me as paladin, because my marauder is one level shy of opening that dungeon. I do love that dungeon. I did Tamtam as a conjurer on roulette, since it said it needed healers, made level 20 and did the level 20 quest. I did the roulette guildhest as lancer, because it said it needed DPS. First time I've seen it ask for DPS, but I did as it bid and lanced.

Got a couple of the daily crafting quests done, but I need to go out and farm more stuff. I now have Armorer to about 30; Goldsmith somewhere around 20; Mining around 25; and Carpentry and Botany below level 10, both of them. Not really much point in doing any of these jobs, since Kasul is far, far better at them all than I am, and I can just ask him for stuff. But, I like being able to do the daily crafting mostly on my own.

Anyway, I was finishing up the lv 20 Conjurer quest when Kasul logged in. It was Stone Vigil time.

You look... surprised!
You look… surprised!

I apologized to the unfortunate elders who drew me as their tank when we zoned in. Usually people are pretty cool with grouping with a newbie if they appear willing to learn. I always make it a point to talk to people at the start, especially if I'm new or they're new. (And I apologize to Omuro for not doing this in Haukke Manor; I thought you had been through all this stuff with another character). I also recap the strats as revealed to me in the wiki and walkthrough videos so that the elder players can comment on it. I never get a commendation as a newbie, but I imagine they appreciate me not barreling ahead like I already know everything. There's not been a dungeon that didn't surprise me, even after I did the research.
The victors!
The victors!

Stone Vigil was a heck of a dungeon. I overpulled early on, causing a wipe, but after that I was a bit more careful. Kasul kept me alive somehow, the elder deeps kept things dead somehow, and even the nasty character above didn't cause anyone many problems. I say that, but Kasul explained afterward about how often his healing was just on the edge, and how he had to deal with debuffs as best he could. The fact that I didn't even notice is testament to his skill.

One of the deeps — Azelia, the Machinist — had a turret gun pet which was pretty neat. Had no idea those things existed.

Anyway, with that done, the dungeon goes on rotation (theoretically; roulette has never given me anything beyond the first three dungeons). I do hope we get it again. Looks like it mostly drops weapons, which is good, but I could use better armor as well. Cutter's Cry seems to be the place to get some armor.

Marauder is level 28 now. I might as well get the job to 30 and check out Warrior, being so close. I just don't see a real difference in playstyles between marauder and paladin. Tanking is tanking.

Driving Kasul…

Yes, Uber has set up shop in Eorzea. I'm just out to make some extra gil with my chocobo between adventures.
Yes, Uber has set up shop in Eorzea. I’m just out to make some extra gil with my chocobo between adventures.

With our free month of FFXIV about to end, Kasul and I had to make a difficult decision. Not about whether or not to continue playing the game — we're both having a lot of fun with — but just who was going to recruit who for the recruit-a-friend program. See, in FFXIV, if you recruit someone, you get a bunch of cool rewards, like that two-seater chocobo in the picture. If you're recruited, you get some lesser rewards.

Kasul discovered, though, that we could recruit each other, and so that's what we did. He subbed for longer than I subbed (90 days vs month to month), so I got my rewards first. I didn't realize, at the time, Kasul's master plan: I was going to be driving him everyplace on our story night.

We play for awhile most every night, but the story night is our night to play our main jobs and progress the story. My paladin job is 42; Kasul's been keeping both his scholar and summoner jobs the same level at around 40 to 41.

Last week we ended the story at the Titan fight. When we reported to the Scion of the Seventh Dawn headquarters afterward… well, it was clear the storyline had taken a sudden, unexpected, dramatic shift. The Garlean Empire had gone too far. It was time to take the fight to them.

The eventual goal is to take on the primal Garuda, but Garuda is very well-protected. To get to her, we would need an airship. And to get an airship, we would need to find the legendary engineer, the common thread who connects every Final Fantasy game, Cid.

Cid had (reportedly) died during the Calamity, so this was going to be somewhat of a challenge. But that's fine. Kasul had immediately pegged an amnesiac monk as Cid in disguise. We tried various means to spark his memory, but it took one of those androgynous elf twins to name him and wake him.
Cid!
Cid's airship was last seen in Coerthas Central Highlands, drifting away after losing its crew in a battle. We eventually determined it had come to rest in the Stone Vigil, one of the four watchtowers built by the city-state of Ishgard. We were finally able to get permission to go there and attempt to retrieve the airship (with Cid and the androgyne elf along for the ride). Unfortunately, the whole place has been overrun with dragons….

The Stone Vigil is the next dungeon in the story. It was just a little too late for me to attempt a new dungeon. I'm hoping we get to it tonight. Dragons. I love killing dragons.

Last night's chapter was filled with running-around quests, but they didn't rise to the same level of boredom as last week's, leading up to the Titan fight. That was partly due to the wonderfully dark, oppressed atmosphere and castles of the Coerthas Central Highlands. Kasul and I had been through there briefly before on some task or other, when we were much lower level. We were finally able to enjoy it, even join in on some Fate hunts.

I did not think we'd be this far along in just a month.

Nina Tanglewood, the Doom Banana.
Nina Tanglewood, the Doom Banana.

With Stone Vigil being a level 42-44 dungeon, and Garuda herself being a level 45 trial, I feel we're getting near the end of the main, pre-Heavensward, storyline. I can't believe it would take more than a month to close it out. We have lots of jobs to level and lots of dungeons to run before we start in on the hard dungeons that we'll need in order to proceed to Heavensward. I hear that characters with average item level of 100 and more are doing okay in the expansion; my paladin average armor level is in the high 30s. It should be 50 when I start on hard dungeons. I'm a tank. My armor should be the best in the group.

It probably WON'T be, at least to start. It's a goal.

Killing Tidus…

Just you and me, kid. You and me and no three other people not in this picture.
Just you and me, kid. You and me and no three other people not in this picture.

On our last story day, Kasul and I had thought we were just minutes away from meeting Titan, the Lord of the Crags, based on the urgency of the NPCs. We finished the night thinking that next time, we would be meeting the primal of the kobolds in our second Trial.

No! That turned out not to be the case! Instead, we spent pretty much the entire night proving our worthiness by doing trivial jobs. Only by gladly crossing the planet doing fetch jobs, could we show the sort of spunk and willingness to follow orders given by strangers required to break through the rock-hard skin of Titan.

Or something?

Midway through the evening, we opened up Brayflox's Longstop, a rather fun dungeon which we accidentally did twice. Brayflox was one of the legendary Company of Heroes. If this friendly fire-loving terrorist kobold was typical of the Company of Heroes, it's no wonder it took them three days to kill Titan back in the old days. The kobolds were suicidal, but the loot was good, and in our two trips through the dungeon I picked up a lot of upgrades in the Cavalry set. Once I get the chestplate, I'll look a lot more like a paladin.

After I accidentally sent us through Brayflox's a second time, I managed to properly queue up for Titan.

Part of my job, as the tank, is to lead the group through encounters. It doesn't matter if I know what the heck I'm doing, but even if half the group are experts at the dungeon, they're expecting I already know everything about it. And so, I study walkthroughs and watch videos before I enter any new trial or dungeon. And, wow… I wonder at the kind of group people must run when they try to figure out the Titan fight.

Though, really, it's not that different from what comes before. Instead of the Ifrit Nail, you have the Titan Heart. People get caged, just like in Brayflox's. The jump thing is new; the Titan pushing you off the mountain to your certain doom is new. It took us three tries to get through the encounter. But we did eventually succeed, and we did end the night with that chapter completed, as well as several shiny new levels and a lot of new loot.

I have become Paladin, destroyer of worlds!

Fear the armor!
Fear the armor!

With my faithful Chocobo, Yupa, I scare away all invaders with my overpowering black armor. They thought they were getting the white paladin, the kind that would bring them mercy. This is not the kind of paladin they are getting.

Kasul and I met tonight to advance the story a little bit. Last time opened up Thousand Maws, an experience neither of us really enjoyed. And, since there were no gear upgrades in the dungeon, no reason to ever do it again (unless it comes up in a random low level dungeon at some point). Since we've well outleveled the story at this point, we were hoping that tonight's questing would get us a dungeon nearer our levels (me: 31, Kasul: 32). But no luck. The chapter we did brought us to a hidden desert town full of exiles rousted out of the nearby city now inhabited by undead and level 45 beastmen.

No new dungeon, though.

My Paladin/Gladiator is 31, backed up by level 17 Marauder and 15 Conjurer. Both those need to get to about level 26. I should take Marauder up to 30 and try out Warrior, but, I'm not really that interested in the other (current) tank class. Marauders use TP while Paladins use MP and combining these two power sets just isn't coming together cleanly. I'll figure it out. I've been a paladin for a grand total of one day.

I do like the Marauder Overpower, though. So much better than the Gladiator Flash in many ways. I tanked Sastasha as a Marauder, and had a lot of fun with Overpower. This was the first time Kasul had healed as a Scholar. I don't think we have ever done a dungeon with him as Scholar and me as Paladin yet.

FFXIV is still fun enough, but I feel like I am slipping behind in Battle, Field, and Trade paths. There is SO MUCH to do, that I feel paralyzed by indecision when I log in. What to work on? Roulettes? Offclasses? Do I start a dps class just for kicks?

I love leveling, but I don't love endgame grinds. So I have to balance wanting to level as fast as I can with knowing I probably won't like it when I get there.