Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh Shi--Scholar Group 2 Merits!!!!

It looks like I'll have plenty of stuff to merit soon. Puppetmaster is 67 (and has awesome group 1 & 2 merits) and SE announced they're adding Scholar (and Dancer, but who cares?) group 2's!
Scholars and Dancers Rejoice!

The next version update will also see the introduction of Group 2 merit point abilities for the scholar and dancer jobs. While Fan Festival 2008 in Japan will proudly play host to the unveiling of the scholar’s new enhanced abilities, a tight lid will be kept on the dancer’s secrets until the American Fan Festival, slated for early December.

Light Arts Stratagem (requires two charges).
Increases the accuracy of your next white magic spell.

Dark Arts Stratagem (requires two charges).
Increases the accuracy of your next black magic spell.

Light Arts Stratagem (requires two charges).
Your next white magic spell will generate less enmity.

Dark Arts Stratagem (requires two charges).
Your next black magic spell will generate less enmity.

Optimizes both white and black magic capabilities and allows access to both addenda for your next spell. Recast: 10min.

Storm-type spells grant a bonus to attributes associated with their element.
Initial bonus value: +3.

The scholar and dancer relic attire sets will also make their way to Vana’diel this winter! Naturally, players will have to venture into the Dynamis areas should they hope to acquire them. Happy hunting!
I'm overjoyed to see that SE isn't going to take two years to release Scholar relic. I'm also VERY eager to know if Scholar is going to get a Refresh piece in the set. A not-body/head piece would be ideal as that would allow you to still use either a Vermillion/Ixion cloak for Refresh or the Scholar's Mortarboard for 3/MP tick Sublimation. But a body piece wouldn't be bad either. It is free, afterall.

ZOMG!!! Good Group 2 Merits?!?

For merits, SE will presumably let you put 5/5 into one if you so desire. I don't know which I'll do yet as they don't really tell much about what each one actually does or what 5/5 into one will do. But I believe some speculation on ideal 5/5ery is in order.

The Magic accuracy+ ones will likely add more macc+ with each additional merit and at #4 or #5 possibly go down to 1 Stratagem charge in cost. Outside of lolDivine Magic and the white magic enfeebles (Paralyze, Slow, Silence) white magic is great from /WHM and /RDM precisely because it doesn't need to be accurate as buffs/cures aren't resisted. Which makes Altruism look to be lolAltruism already.

Focalization looks like it could be pretty awesome. Scholar's main shortcoming from a replacing BLMs perspective is problems landing spells on big things. (There's also the no Stun and -ga3 spells, but those are less important generally.) How much will 5/5 Focalization improve magic accuracy though is what I'm wondering. Macc+25 at 1 Stratagem charge cost would be worthwhile and make it a decent candidate for 5/5ery.

Enmity reduction Stratagem abilities look less useful. Kaeko has made it apparent how useful an Enmity- gearset is with Light Arts. Unfortunately, what he shows that an Enmity- build is useful for is a) Cure IV spam b) AoE buffs. For the former if each Tranquility merit was Enmity-10 to the -50 cap it would be handy for Cure IV sometimes. But using 3 of 4 charges to AoE Stoneskin or Phalanx makes it pretty pointless. But really due to the other options available anything short of halving your Cure IV enmity with 1/5 merit at a cost of 2 charges it's not worth getting.

Equanimity looks even less useful than it's white magic counterpart. I can't think of any situations where I say "Boy, I sure wish I could nuke more without pulling hate" as Scholar. Tanks are either decent enough nowadays that you can nuke at a decent pace or there is no tank and you can go all out in a solo/manaburn situation. This is like the Muted Soul of SCH merits.

Enlightenment actually looks quite cool. It's in effect a mini-2hr that lets you save your Light Arts/Dark Arts change recast as well as 2 Addendum Stratagem charges to use a spell that's in either addendum with full B+ skill. From the description it doesn't sound like 5/5 will increase it's effect in any way (like Formless Strikes), but rather just reduce the recast on it (like Feint). Following the existing pattern among Group 2 merits that means it will be able to go from 10 minutes down to 2 minutes.

The ability to stay in Addendum: Black and get around the penalties to white magic and use an Addedum: White spell every 2 minutes makes this one of the top candidates for 5/5ery. If you are filling a Curing/buffing role you can pop it and throw out a Blizzard IV to finish some mob off. Or, perhaps more usefully, you can Sleep 2 an add without having to change to Dark Arts, use Addendum Black (assuming you have a charge ready), and then cast Sleep 2. If you are in a super MP efficient BLM type role, then the ability to toss a Cure 3/4 for less MP or put Reraise 2 back up quickly would be rather handy too.

Stormsurge looks fairly interesting. STAT+3 for the first merit and presumably +3 for each additional merit to a total of +15. The obvious bonus to the Scholar would be to use Hailstorm for INT+15. With an INT+20 advantage Blizzard IV might out-nuke Thunder IV. Running around more quickly with Desert Boots + Sandstorm would also provide a nice VIT+15. For other people they could get +15 to the stat of their choosing as well. Samurais could get STR+15 for their WS, other melees might like DEX+15 for an Acc boost and possibly get bumped up a crit tier. RDMs might like MND+15 for debuffs. Other BLMs might like the INT+15 boost as well. Being able to have an INT+15 boost fulltime makes this another candidate for 5/5ery.

The Dilemma

With three potentially useful group 2 merits, it won't be possible to be 5/5 in all three of them. Focalization, Enlightenment, and Stormsurge all bring new things to the job. I think those three will be the only ones touched at all pretty much just as Ice/Thunder Potency are the only Group 1's that BLMs do.

For the "pure damage I camp Fafnir everyday" people I predict:
5/5 Focalization
5/5 Stormsurge

If you are all about HNMs and maximum damage this looks to be the way to go. I'd be tempted to do this as well, but the next option also appeals to me.

For the "pure damage I camp Fafnir everyday" people who went 5/5 Burst 2, 4/5 Freeze 2, 1/5 either Flood or Tornado 2 if they have BLM leveled I predict:
5/5 Focalization
4/5 Stormsurge
1/5 Enlightenment

With this merit configuration you have a less potent Stormsurge, but get the very useful Enlightenment. Unfortunately, you can only use it once every 10 minutes, so it's like Elemental Seal. Useful, but don't count on it very often. Only going 4/5 into Focalization (depending on how much accuracy it adds and what the fifth upgrade does) and capping Stormsurge might be pretty good too.

As far as actually adding versatility to Scholar (without adding Magic accuracy for HNMs):
5/5 Stormsurge
5/5 Enlightenment

This setup lets you give people weather for new reasons (stats) and cast the other Arts' spells with full skill bonuses very frequently. Maybe only put 4 into Stormsurge for Focalization if you nuke resistant mobs sometimes.

The last setup I think we'll see is going 1 into each group and randomly putting 4 into one category. Probably Stormsurge. Which I regard as stupid like opening every AM2 or eating paintchips.

Epic Conclusion

Unlike the Group 1's which were basically garbage, these Group 2's actually look interesting and potentially useful.

Two things I haven't mentioned are that if 5/5 Focalization is only 1 charge and provides a sizeable boost in magic accuracy it potentially opens up soloing with Bind things that only RDMs had the magic accuracy to pull off before. Also if Hailstorm provides INT+15 (with 5/5 Stormsurge) tat means Cryohelix won't suck as much.

That's it for now, feel free to add thoughts on SCH merits/relic, or whatever else, in comments.

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