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Why you should be playing Final Fantasy XI: The corsair class


"Why you should be playing ..." is a free form column from intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we play what we do!

They keep telling me that gambling has no place on the battlefield. Battlefields are the places of warriors, mages, paladins, thieves, and rangers. You need to have a sword in your hand or a spell at the ready, because things can go from calm to chaotic in seconds. There's no time to play games when life and death is on the line, especially when a death can cause lost experience points.

Whoever said gambling has no place on the battlefield probably never met Final Fantasy XI's dice rolling, card throwing pirate class -- the corsair. The class where your buffs are based on a little skill, a little intuition, and all the luck the party can lend.

Corsair has been one of my all-time favorite classes on any MMO. Their core operation of their Phantom Roll ability is simple: pick a die, roll it, and try to come as close as possible to 11 without going over. Each die represents a different buff, ranging from increased speed, to increased double attack chance, to even increased experience. Yes, that's right, all of my buffs are guided by quick games of watered-down blackjack. The closer I come to 11, the better my buffs become. And yes, I'm doing this in combat while you're concerned with wacking a monster over the head with your sword.

Each time a die is rolled by a corsair, a number between 1 and 6 is selected from the cards that fly around their body. After that number is selected, the corsair has the option to use one of their other core class skills -- double-up. Double-up rolls the die again, adding the new number to the previous one. If you still don't like it, you can keep rolling as much as you want... until you bust, that is.

Busting comes at any number over 11. You don't want to bust, especially not in combat, as it will remove the buff you were rolling on from the party and reverse it on yourself. So, for example, if you had +5% exp gain on yourself and you bust on your exp dice roll, it turns it into -5% exp gain for the duration of the roll. If that wasn't enough, the bust locks out one of your roll slots, giving you only 1 die to roll instead of the standard 2. If you bust twice, then no corsair buffs for you!

To make this even trickier, all of the dice in the game include lucky and unlucky numbers. Lucky numbers are usually low, like 2 or 3. These numbers give you the strength of a buff that's just a bit below an 11, but above a 10. They're great to hit, as they don't require you to worry about doubling down. Unlucky numbers are the opposite; they're higher numbers and will give you the potency of a buff just above a 1 but below a 2. Hitting them usually means you're going to double-up and risk a bust, unless you want to play conservatively and just wait out the buff.

In a nutshell, corsairs are exciting in combat. Already I've given a few party leaders some heart attacks by playing risky odds in the middle of battle. Things like being in a battle with a really hard monster and a roll wearing off, forcing me to re-roll right then and there. The dice turn up a 9, an unlucky number, but I know I can do better. I can go higher. The party has a heart attack as my character chirps happily about doubling-up, the cards quickly spinning around her before landing on a number. A 2 appears over my head, and the roll gets bumped to 11. Gasps and sighs ring out, and I smile, knowing full well that I'm doing my job perfectly.

What's a game without a little exciting risk?

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