Tohru for the sake of dragons

Dragon Sized Problems

I’ve always loved Dragoon or even spear-wielding classes since my days on Ragnarok Online as a Lord Knight. That moved over well to Final Fantasy XI which I played since I was about fourteen years old. And then again to Final Fantasy XIV! Yet I’ve got a few dragon sized problems with DRG in FFXI that I had forgotten about until our return.

What Should I Play?!

Coming back to FFXI, I was torn as to what to really have as my main. Instincts screamed “Samurai!” Everyone else told me to play whatever, because for what we’ll be doing they’re basically equals. I really had to wonder why my instincts were so strongly against it, but the longer I was logged in the more it came back to me. There had to be a good reason why I didn’t immediately hop over to the job I consider my home, and goodness gracious were there a few of those reasons.

The Wyvern Soars

The problem? Our wyvern. I know so many people in FFXIV who whine about wanting a wyvern for DRG and no–seriously no. This is such a horrible idea given their experience with how to handle wyverns in FFXI. Well, why bother struggling so hard to keep your wyvern out? Can’t you be without it? It isn’t that much % of your damage directly. SE’s official response about Dragoon is as thus:

…the buffs that are granted by the wyvern are balanced around the recast time of Call Wyvern and the difficulty around keeping your wyvern at your side.

Which, okay, I guess. Summoning your wyvern grants you both a 10% bonus to Attack and Defense. This increases naturally as the wyvern “levels up” (which is easily maxed immediately with 5/5 Empathy Spirit Link). Each level for a maximum of five grants 2% more Attack, 2% more Defense, and 2% Haste in the Job Ability category. With enough job points spent into Dragoon you also gain 3% Double Attack per level. This makes for a total of +20% Attack, +20% Defense, +10% Haste, and +15% Double Attack just by keeping your wyvern alive.

But that’s not all! Having your wyvern alive also gives Spirit Jump the bonuses of +100% critical hit rate, +25% Attack, and +100% TP returned. It also gives Soul Jump +100% critical hit rate, +50% Attack, and +200% TP returned. All of these buffs combined makes keeping your wyvern alive extremely lucrative for Dragoon, and it seems like that might make them into gods. But really it just puts them on the entry point of competitive level with everyone else who doesn’t have to rely on a twenty minute timer ability.

The Wyvern Falls

That’s right. Call Wyvern is a 20 minute ability. That’s more time than most trial roulettes would take in FFXIV. More time than many have patience for in expert roulettes. And this is just for one ability! Now… keeping your wyvern alive isn’t particularly difficult. They have a native 40% damage taken reduction and you can push this to 87.5% with gear if you wanted. We have Spirit Link which restores their HP while removing ailments and granting them a hefty Regen. There’s even Steady Wing for a durable Stoneskin and various pet healing items.

No, the trouble doesn’t come down to keeping the wyvern itself alive–but the master. If you get charmed, you lose your pet. Not a problem for SMN, sometimes a problem for PUP, an expensive problem for BST but an outright clipping for DRG. If the master dies, you lose your pet. Same deal. So if you die from an inattentive healer or the group wipes or whatever, you’re now screwed unless you had the fortune to Dismiss your wyvern at 100% HP before the charm or death.

Then there’s the wyvern’s bonuses to Spirit Jump and Soul Jump to consider. Most of the equipment DRG gets augments Jump or High Jump. A few pieces help Spirit Jump and Soul Jump, but why not just have them all combined? The mythic weapon, Ryunohige, one of the best weapons for DRG in the game… gives bonuses to only Jump and High Jump! If we’re supposed to benefit so greatly from the wyvern being around, and the wyvern only gives bonuses to Spirit and Soul Jumps–why is there such an unnecessary split in design?

The Wyvern Crumbles

Oh but it gets worse. DRG’s original 2-hour ability used to be Call Wyvern. That’s right! It was worse than 20 minutes–we had to wait two freaking hours! It got replaced by a 2-hour sorry they’re 1-hour abilities now. This ability is called Spirit Surge and it wrecks all over SE’s choice of design for Dragoon in FFXI to begin with.

Your wyvern needs to be out first in order for you to consume it. Kinda like SCH in FFXIV. The timers on Jump, High Jump, and Super Jump will reset. Now for one minute (duration can be extended slightly with gear) your Jump will apply a 20% Defense Down to your target. This will overwrite another ability of Dragoon, Angon, which with gear and merits can apply a 25% Defense Down to the target for the same duration. Do you see the problem here? Next, High Jump will reduce target TP by twice the damage it deals. Given the number of people hitting the enemy this won’t do you hardly any good. Finally, Super Jump will not only reduce your enmity to 1–but halve the enmity of the person standing nearest to you behind you.

In addition to the ability changes, your HP is increased by 25% of the wyvern’s max HP and you’re healed for whatever HP the wyvern had left. The wyvern’s TP is transferred to you and you gain a mildly significant STR and Accuracy boost. Finally, you gain a 25% Haste bonus in the Job Ability sector–which really is only 15% from what you had before. Your buffs already probably cap Haste, so this is rendered moot.

A Scaled Fix

SE wants the Dragoon of FFXI to be strong while it maintains its wyvern. So let’s roll with that and fix some of the simple and more jarring issues in respect to it.

1) If the wyvern is alive when the master dies, the wyvern returns when the master is raised.
The master did nothing wrong in maintaining their wyvern, so why should they be punished for it?

2) If the wyvern is alive when the master is charmed, the wyvern returns when the master is uncharmed.
I get maybe they could’ve “lost respect” for their master or something but surely a bond of this nature is stronger than a hot fling.

3) Split Spirit Jump and Soul Jump timers away from Jump and High Jump.
They serve entirely different purposes now, especially with wyvern buffs. Stop trying to consider them the same abilities, SE.

4) Make Spirit Surge not remove your wyvern.
You can’t call it a “gain” when you lose such astounding buffs without your wyvern. Consider this a “strengthening of the bond” between the master and wyvern temporarily. Kinda like how the lions of Voltron get new abilities when they sync with their pilots.

Easy solutions–come on SE, make Dragoon great for the first time ever!

Well… until then, Samurai it is I guess. Happy adventuring!

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