All right, so we aren’t going to have a new live letter until Friday, which means that now I’m going to actually pick down into the depths of what the latest tempest-in-a-teapot minor thing that the Final Fantasy XIV fandom is getting up in arms about. And the last one I saw that actually seemed like it was worth addressing was… the fact that people are gaming the system for various roulettes, alliance roulette in particular, by unequipping gear to get certain results.
There was a remarkably long thread filled with ideas about how to stop this. It was idiotic.
Now, I’m not going to force you to read through the whole article to make my point here, which is that I don’t care if people do this. But I’m not going to leave this there. I’m going to go over this whole stupid thing, in detail, so we can all share in our understanding of why this is just the most ridiculous thing to care about and why complaining that you want to get something other than Syrcus Tower is wasting time.
So here’s the issue. When you queue for a roulette, you’re placed in a pool of people. The system uses a first-in, first-out system, matching the first available person to the group and moving down the list. The assembled group then checks against the various things that you’re eligible to enter and throws you into a random one within those list. Ostensibly, this is hard to really target; after all, if you’ve unlocked every alliance raid and you’re overleveled for all of them, you’ll get any one of them.
However, there’s a trick here: If you unequip a bunch of items, you can artificially push your item level down to a point where you’re not eligible for most of the later raids. It’s not even terribly difficult in leveling gear through the 80s to unequip stuff until you’re assured to get an early run in Labyrinth of the Ancients or Syrcus Tower. This is, absolutely and indisputably, gaming the system.
It is, however, also gaming the system for good reason. And those reasons deserve to be understood, starting with the fact that the plans for what an alliance raid should look like have evolved over the years.
An average on-level NieR raid in late Shadowbringers would easily take about half an hour. This is, in and of itself, totally fine. You were running the raid with people who knew their jobs and what they were doing, for the most part. Some groups are better or worse, but the reality is just that the length of encounters and the HP of bosses meant that you were going to take about half an hour no matter what else you did.
An average run of Syrcus Tower, meanwhile, takes 15 minutes. Maybe a little more if everyone does things really stupid, but it’s just not going to take you very long no matter what. It’s a fast run. And it’s easy. There are about three mechanics you have to pay attention to in the entire run to avoid wiping, and none of them is likely to trip you up.
Both of these lengths are, in and of themselves, fine. They’re just fine for different things. When you’re doing content that’s new and kind of tuned for the job that you already know and requires some focus, taking some time is to be expected. When you’re doing old content on potentially unfamiliar jobs and just want to be done with this come on I have like four other roulettes to level up? You want something that isn’t going to ask a whole heck of a lot of you.
Part of the issue here is that the tuning for the Crystal Tower series is, in general, very lenient. Some of that is just because of the adjustments made to bring the raids in line with the three-tank setup later raids used, but some of it is just that the tuning is pretty low because of when this content was made and how the game was still evolving. But another part of the issue is just the reality that people are going to prefer the most efficient version of things, and spending a half-hour to go through content when your rewards are lesser than something you can get in half that time? Not a compelling argument!
Oh, wait. That’s also assuming it does just take half an hour because everyone remembers mechanics and performs them adequately and you don’t wind up wiping once on every single boss or have a Red Mage who spends so much time raising she’s basically another healer.
Yeah, have I mentioned that these later raids get dense? The Return to Ivalice series had the first raids that I occasionally got timed out of when they were new. The NieR raids are set up in part by Yoko Taro, who was a bit miffed every time he wasn’t allowed to pack an insta-kill mechanic into something. These raids could easily be a mixed bag when this was current content, much less now when it’s something that people are trying to run as a distraction or as a simple way of doing some leveling.
And all of that is ignoring the fact that statistically, you’re going to see the first three Alliance Raids most often because they’re the three required ones and they’re the lowest level. They’re just going to wind up being a lot more common than the content that some people may have never bothered to unlock along the way or when people are earlier in leveling overall.
On the one hand, yes, this is totally gaming the system. It’s using a workaround that was not intended to avoid getting some of the other raids in rotation, and that kind of sucks for various reasons. People who are trying to queue up for later raids often have a longer wait for doing them, for example, and part of the reason people don’t tend to remember these mechanics is that there’s not really much reason to keep the proper execution of Orbonne Monastery in your mind-vault if you’re never going to do it.
But at the same time, it’s gaming the system for understandable reasons. Alliance raids are one of the few places in the entire game where content that takes significantly longer does not have different rewards, and as a result it makes the higher-end stuff a chore to get through along the way.
So I don’t give the tiniest damn if people strip off some gear in order to not deal with the high-end nonsense. It’s honestly not that bad a thing. Sure, I like the other raids along the way, but I don’t think it’s something that needs a major fix beyond changes made to make older alliance raid content less of a lethal slog. Put more simply, you can’t give me one option I can sleepwalk through and one entry where I have to bring my A-game for identical rewards without making the former sound way, way more appealing.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I’m obviously going to be talking about the live letter. What else could it be?