And so it begins. I was talking with Tom last night and he was gung-ho about playing FFXI. So much so that we decided to start playing last night. Then we were hit with a 4 hour file download, an hour install, and an 8 hour (at least) update. My update was still going when I left for work so there may well be more to come.
We needed to pick a server and it turns out they're currently in the process of combining servers due to declining populations. They had 24 servers before and are going to end up with 16 after the merge. There are no real stats for server sizes but an auction hall scanning site which tracked accounts using the auction halls on each server indicated that they were lining up servers 9-16 with 17-24 in size and doing 2 to 1 merges. I figured it was probably best to pick a server that wasn't going to be merged soon one way or another and picked the coolest name from the top 8: Leviathan! Brings back memories of playing Levia-Stasis in T2 when I moved to Waterloo way back in 1998.
Now, the FFXI world has 3 factions which compete for resources. If I understand it correctly the basics are each zone is controlled by one of the 3 factions (or possibly by a 4th NPC faction - the Beastmen!) Controlling a zone lets you buy gear there and easily teleport in. You take control from other factions by leveling in the zones, and I think you get a bonus to your 'valour points' by leveling in a zone controlled by other factions so they change around a lot. Each faction also has their own main storyline and since the primary goal of doing this is to do the storylines it seems like we should all be the same faction. (You can change later on to do all the missions.) There are 5 playable races in the game each associated with one of the factions but any race can start with any faction. You get a small bonus for picking the matching faction. (A ring with minor stats that can be equipped at level 1. The Windurstian one has 1 agi, 1 int, and 3mp.) You can eventually buy the ring with the conquest points if you are a non-matching race. It doesn't seem like a huge deal but especially starting out every bit counts, right?
What are the races and why do they matter? Well, stats matter more in FFXI than they do in WoW for sure. (If I remember right the stats get used in direct subtraction comparisons so having more hit than your opponent has dodge is very good and it could come down to 1 or 2 stat points to get there.) Also since mana regen is pretty much non-existent (at least at low levels) the size of your mana pool can be a big deal. The 5 races are:
Hume - human - average stats in pretty much everything
Elvaan - elf - higher str, vit, max hp, and mnd - lower agi, int, and max mp
Mithra - cat woman - higher dex and int - lower cha
Taru Taru - gnome - higher max mp, agi, int - lower max hp, str
Galkan - giant man - higher max hp, str, vit - lower max mp, cha
Generally speaking this means that if you want to be a spell caster you want to be a Taru Taru. I found a stat calculator and assuming it works correctly then at level 30 a BLM/WHM would have 370 mana and 41 as a Taru Taru and 204 mana and 33 int as a Galkan. That's almost twice as much base mana and an extra 8 points of int which impact damage or hit chance or both. It's pretty clear the Galkan is abysmally bad at casting compared to a Taru Taru.
Tanking is the opposite. Switch to WAR/MNK instead and the story changes. The Galkan has 674 health and 38 vit. The Taru Taru has 491 health and 30 vit. That's an absurd difference.
The other 3 races are more balanced with Elvaans being physical beaters who miss more often, Humes being ok at everything, and Mithra hitting more often but being less charismatic.
To look at it another way, here are the stat orderings at level 30 for a red mage with paladin as a support job. (No idea if that's a good idea or not but it has mana from both jobs so it should help demonstrate things.)
hp - Galka (567), Elvaan (506), Mithra (475) = Hume (475), Taru Taru (384)
mp - Taru Taru (297), Mithra (204) = Hume (204), Elvaan (173), Galka (125)
Str - Elvaan (35), Galka (33), Hume (31), Mithra (29), Taru Taru (27)
Dex - Mithra (36), Hume (29) = Taru Taru (29) = Galka (29), Elvaan (28)
Vit - Galka (37), Elvaan (33), Hume (30), Mithra (29) = Taru Taru (29)
Agi - Mithra (30), Taru Taru (29), Hume (26), Galka (25), Elvaan (22)
Int - Taru Taru (37), Mithra (30) = Hume (30), Galka (29), Elvaan (26)
Mnd - Elvaan (37), Hume (33) = Galka (33), Mithra (31) = Taru Taru (31)
Cha - Hume (30) = Elvaan (30) = Taru Taru (30), Mithra (26) = Galka (26)
And what do the stats do? hp and mp should be obvious, I would hope. After that:
Strength - do more damage with physical attacks
Dexterity - hit more often & crit more often with physical attacks, huge boost to sneak attack
Vitality - take less damage, do and/or receive more healing, do more damage with jump?!?
Agility - get hit less often & get crit less often with physical attacks, hit more often with ranged attacks, give less rage to the enemy with physical attacks
Intelligence - do more damage with black magic, take less damage from black magic, pick locks better?!?
Mind - do more damage with white magic, take less damage from white magic, heal more
Charisma - makes bards, dancers, and beastmasters better
Personally I intend to play lots of jobs and not focus on one type in particular so I think Taru Taru and Galka are out. Elvaan have a fair bit less mana than the other two and don't seem to gain anything terribly useful in the process. (They are probably the most powerful healers per spell cast but can cast fewer spells, and they hit hardest but hit and crit less often.) Humes make minor gains in strength, vitality, mind, and charisma but lose a lot in dexterity and agility compared to Mithra. Apparently they added a class that rolls dice and throws cards like Setzer in FFVI which is my ultimate goal and it seems like they want all stats but especially high agility. So I was down between being a Hume or a Mithra and I figured I'd just pick the one that started in the same town as whatever Tom picked. He wanted to go straight melee damage which heavily favours Mithra I think since they get such a huge amount of Dex, so that's what we're going with.
Mithra and Taru Taru both make Windurst their home, so that's where we're starting to get free rings. It sounds like a couple other people are interested in playing, so if you do please head to Leviathan and start in Windurst!
- edit: I should point out that many people say race doesn't really matter and you should pick what you want to look at regardless of anything else. I suspect those people have enough powerful gear to make up the deficiencies which I don't expect having but it is something to keep in mind. -