Not long after recruiting my initial party, I found a White Mage and a Bard. Yes, there would be much experience chaining today.
Then it happened. Not two pulls in, I made a rookie mistake due to being semi-rusty on how to properly tank. I forgot that you never, ever attack a mob before getting it all the way back to your party. You see, when you attack in FFXI, it locks you into a slow walking animation. The proper reward for this stupid move was given, and I died. Apparently though, I wasn't finished. I still had my home point sent in North Gustaburg. Thankfully it was right next to Konschtat, so it didn't take me too long to get back to the party in Valkurm -- the swift feet Moogle magic thing helped, too.
After that, I let other players pull for the remainder of my leadership -- which I was more than happy to pass around as people told me they had friends they could invite. Why did I do this? Grouping in FFXI takes so very long, that often times when you get a group together one or more of the members have to leave for some reason or another. This can be really, really frustrating. So the best thing to do is make use of any resources you have to acquire a new member, especially when you lose an integral part of the group like a healer or tank. Luckily, being a tank myself meant I only really needed to worry about healers. Black Mages, Samurai and Dragoons are usually always in vast supply.
Hell, I even managed to get a Ranger for a while. That made pulls and multiple experience chaining exceedingly smooth and plentiful. It was leveling paradise, I tell you. It began at the bottom of level 13 and by the time I finished, my Elvaan Warrior was staring level 16 right in the eyes. This all happened between about 3pm and 7pm, which was even more surprising than the constant stream of party member replacements I continuously reeled in to play. As an added bonus, we only had a few deaths (including my own silly demise) that amounted to very little downtime, since most players had a high level Red Mage sitting back in town.
If I only learned one thing about FFXI this last week, it's that Red Mages are more popular than pepperoni pizza and beer at a state college.
Luckily, I was even able to grab the first item needed for my subjob quest -- the Crab Apron. Sure, it's the easiest thing to get out of the three items you need, but at least it's over and done. The sooner I can finish that quest, the better.
What I'm really dreading are the advanced job quests. I'm probably going to do Paladin first, but I'll need a good party or a high level player to help me out. There's also the Chocobo quest, but I can probably do that while I take care of other things, like writing!
So my impressions of FFXI in 2009 after a couple weeks are surprisingly positive. If you're thinking of coming back with a fresh start -- meaning a new copy of the game -- it's pretty cheap right now at 20 USD or below. I would recommend the Siren server, as my experience has been that it's nicely populated even in the lower level areas. Once my Elvaan reaches Jeuno, it'll probably become so overcrowded that I won't know what to do with myself. Until then though, I'll just enjoy the nice surf and occasional goblin/skeleton/ghost scare at Valkurm Dunes.
I'll bring you more FFXI next week, assuming I've got interesting things to share. If not, well, I'll find something interesting to discuss one way or another.