What are the Grand Companies?
Let's abridge the history lesson. The Grand Companies of Eorzea are a sort of independent military force for each of the three nations. Each is beholden directly to the leader of the nation (or the leader's right-hand man, in the case of the Immortal Flames) and is concerned with the defense of Eorzea as a whole rather than simple national politics. Each has agents who work within and without the borders of each nation, ensuring that no state stands alone against the Empire and the Primals.
In game terms, you wind up joining a Grand Company after the instanced battle you hit around level 20. (Pretty much everyone knows what that battle is by now, but to avoid spoilers, I'll leave it a mystery.) Your nation of origin is irrelevant here; you can join any of the three companies. After one mission in service of your company of choice, you can completely ignore the company if you want to, although you probably will want to get that chocobo license.
What can you get?
Did I mention chocobos? Yes, I did. You can buy yourself that much-vaunted bird for the bargain price of 2000 seals. That's pretty easy to get, and you can certainly mark that as your terminus point for involvement.
Aside from that, the Grand Company has access to many things. At lower ranks you can buy some high-quality armor and weapons for characters in the low 20s as well as manuals designed to help your gathering and crafting classes level more quickly. Once you get a bit higher, you can buy even better items, culminating in some nicely itemized level 50 weapons (item level 55) with unique skins. There are also some nice accessories here and there and other goodies for players who climb the ranks, including accessories that will boost the spiritbond rate of your gear (useful especially with high-level equipment that you want to convert).
How do you get promotions? You ask for them. Early promotions require merely seals, but later promotions require you to also clear hunting logs or quests along the way. The cost of ranking up increases by 1000 seals for each rank, with a new tier of equipment available after major promotions.
How can I earn seals?
The easiest way to earn seals is to do quests specifically for the company. This is not always reliable; there aren't many quests that award seals, period. Your next-easiest method is FATEs, which all reward seals in addition to experience and gil (and possibly items). Of course, those are a bit harder to grab on demand.
So how can you get seals on your own schedule? For starters, you can do Grand Company leves as long as you have some leve allowances. You also can take part in the game's supply and provisioning missions. Supply missions request a crafted item based on your level of skill in a given craft, while provisioning missions ask you to gather something based on your skill level. Turning in the requested items awards seals and some experience for the class in question.
Once you reach the rank of Sergeant Second Class, you can also make use of all those bits of unsellable and nonconvertible dungeon gear you've picked up. Expert delivery requests have no reset timer and just ask you to turn in one piece of dungeon gear for a variable number of seals. It's certainly the fastest and easiest route, although if you are chain-running Brayflox for this, please note that there are easier ways.
Last but not least, joining a Grand Company adds a new hunting log category just for your company, which rewards you in seals rather than experience. These logs do contain some dungeon enemies in addition to various beastman forces in the open world. Filling out the log is required for certain promotions.
There are separate achievement lines for clearing a large number of supply and provisioning missions, with 1000 required for a title and 5000 for an accessory. Note that at three provisioning missions per day at best, it will take you four and a half years to earn that accessory (supply is a bit more reasonable with about two years). These numbers might get tweaked a bit. You also can earn achievements for collecting seals; the achievement line is cumulative, so you don't need to fear spending seals along the way.
Where can I get Grand Company leves?
Company leves are the best way to both level and get seals short of wandering Coerthas chasing FATEs, but they're not always easy to track down. Your officer will point you toward the level 20 and 25 levemetes, but there's nothing I've found to indicate where the other leves are located.
Level 30 Grand Company leves can be found in Costa del Sol in Eastern La Noscea, just a quick ferry ride from Limsa Lominsa. Level 35 Grand Company leves are offered in the Observatorium in southeastern Coerthas, while level 40 leves are available at Whitebrim Front (central-north Coerthas). I've yet to find any leves for 45 or 50, although I suspect the former at least might be found in Mor Dhona (if not now then soon).
Completing Grand Company leves ties into three achievement lines. First, you can earn more seals, which ties into the earning achievements (naturally). There are also rewards for clearing a certain number of unique levequests as well as a total number of leves cleared for a given company. Clearing 200 leves for a company earns you a title.
Which should I choose?
If you've already picked a Company or haven't gotten there yet and are worried you've picked the wrong one, don't. Every Grand Company has offerings for every class, and the differences are slight.
That having been said, the Maelstrom is obviously the best company.
Feedback is welcome down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, as always. Next week, I want to talk about the first few dungeons in the game in the abstract, and the week after that I'd like to talk about the back-and-forth of the main story content.
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.