A few weeks back, I got an email from a reader talking asking about getting back into Final Fantasy XI after a long absence. As he put it, he and his girlfriend were thinking of going back to the game together, duoing their way through Vana'diel. Which is a great idea, as it's a game very well suited toward duoing, now more than ever with the existence of varied regimes and training manuals.

Of course, there's more to the equation than just throwing two classes together and hoping for the best. There are a lot of things that you can do to make your experience harder than it needs to be, something that I'm unfortunately familiar with from my own experience. So this week, I'm going to take a look at what you can do to make your life easier when running as a team, no matter what resources are available to you in terms of jobs, gil, and fellow players.

Jobs are not what you think

The oft-mentioned Ms. Lady and I had tried duoing together in Vana'diel at one point. I was playing a White Mage and she was playing a Warrior, with the expectation that I would eventually graduate to Scholar while she moved on to Paladin. Our reasoning was that this way we'd have a solid suite of healing and tanking available to us, allowing us to take on tougher monsters than we would be able to when soloing.

This worked slightly better than two White Mages wearing no armor and attacking by running circles around one another, but only slightly. Because if you've somehow forgotten, now is a fine time for a reminder -- enemies in FFXI are pretty meaty. That HP bar does not shrink fast with a tank and a healer, especially not if that healer is tapping upon years of Red Mage experience and figuring the best way to make things die faster is a plethora of debuffs.

Duoing is different enough from soloing that you can still diversify roles a bit more than normal, but a better choice would have been a Monk and a melee-oriented Red Mage. An even better choice would have been something truly bizarre, like a PLD/NIN paired with a DNC/BRD. Both characters in these setups need to be capable of surviving a few hits, there needs to be some means of reliable healing, and you have to be able to dish out a reasonable amount of damage under the circumstances.

Damage dealing jobs are a bit more valuable than more dedicated jobs in this regard, and most of the pet classes are going to have a chance to shine (with the possible exception of Beastmaster, just due to the experience drop). Your goal is to strike a balance between the three axioms mentioned above -- a pure caster is going to need to be edging toward the hybrid mold, while pure tanks are at a distinct disadvantage. But hey, you always wanted a PLD/RDM leveling a greatsword, right?

Choose your region

Experience camps were never based around anything more than simple convenience once the party was at the location. It might have been torture to get to Altepa at times, but once you were there the party would last for several hours. Your goal was finding the spots that offered the most reward for the least risk, because a solid party would keep running on experience chains and solid pulls.

The odds are good that a two-person party will not be rocking Chain 10 and beyond. Odds are good, in fact, that a two-person party has an entirely different axis to consider. To maximize your gains, you're going to want to maximize your use of Fields of Valor, and that means picking areas where you can move between pages and find spawns in relatively close proximity. You want spots that are close to where you logged off -- your party won't be going for hours once you arrive at camp, simply because there's not going to be a proper camp you can capitalize on.

You should also be wary of enemies with powerful status ailments. At low levels, funguars and lizards can be deadly because of their extremely potent poison; at higher levels, stuns and Curse can be just as dangerous. Yes, there are spells and items that can deal with these status effects, but when it's just two people you may not have access to those tricks, and you don't have a whole party ready to back you up if an enemy proves too much to handle. Take care to look up the Field Manual you have in mind and scan for enemies. Some of the manuals in question are too spread out to be useful to a pair of adventurers on foot, while others will be packed with unreliable spawns or extremely dangerous targets.

Other tips

Depending on where you are in the game, consider your choices carefully. If you're starting completely new characters, for instance, I'd recommend going for Bastok, because being able to farm your chocobo greens right over in the Wadi is a significant advantage. Greens aren't always on the auction house at this point, after all. Similarly, if your characters already have access to chocobos but not airships, you may want to base yourself out of San d'Oria to maximize your travel options. (San d'Oria has a number of fairly accessible areas and isn't far from Bastok, and Jugner is easier to navigate than the mountains north of Windurst.)

Prioritize single-target spells over area spells. Yes, Protectra and Shellra save you a cast, but there are only two people in the party. Similarly, prioritize utility that's relevant. Escape loses a fair bit of its utility simply because your pair is unlikely to be in dungeons often enough for the spell to see full use.

Those are the big tips I have for any aspiring adventuring pairs looking to FFXI for their haunt of choice. Any further tips can of course be left in the comments, as can any opinions on said tips. (You can also mail me at eliot@massively.com, but you knew that by now, right?) Next week, I'm responding to another reader question by answering what I precisely mean when I keep saying that Final Fantasy XIV isn't for everyone.

And an unrelated postscript...

I know that the past two weeks have pretty much been unadulterated FFXIV love, and I don't really regret that. If you'd like some more of that, I appeared on Episode 34 of the Crystal Core podcast, chatting with hosts Brian and Danny and generally derailing the whole thing. It was a lot of fun as a show, and it's well worth the time to listen.

From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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