Final Fantasy XI (FFXI) Ballista

Strategy 008: How to Improve in Ballista

Before I start, I realize that most of my audience consists of NA players who strongly believe that they’re almighty and possess some sort of unshakable skill in Ballista.  However, in order to improve in anything, it’s necessary to admit self flaws and leave an open mind for new ideas.  Seeing as most NA players struggle with acknowledging the fundamentals of the game due to a variety of reasons—ignorance, stubbornness, and closed-mindedness to name a few—I took the liberty to write a resourceful Ballista guide for those who may be experiencing troubles in terms of improving.

To begin with improvement of any sort, an individual must determine his goal.  With a particular goal in mind, identifying appropriate measures and adjusting oneself in attaining that goal become much more evident.  Consequently, results of improvement may become more noticeable, as reflecting on that goal.  Try to set a goal that would benefit or even apply to a team environment.  Goals like wanting to solo every single known Ballista player in a one on one duel will probably lead to a dead end and result in little to no improvement in terms of Ballista skill.  A common goal shared between several well-respected Ballista players is to reach their fullest potential with a specific job, which is an excellent goal to strive towards.  Having a similar goal to such would most likely put a player on the right path to improvement.

Since Ballista does revolve around fights between players, people could easily become upset or irritated with losses.  As such, the players’ frustration could quickly proceed to vile-mouthed arguments, which should best be avoided.  Essentially, it’s important to maintain composure and good sportsmanship.  This leads to the topic of having the right mentality and attitude to improve in Ballista.  If an individual were to improve in anything, he must first desire to improve and stay open to suggestions and new ideas.  Most importantly, though, all false beliefs must be discarded.  Indeed, some players show poor performance simply because they lack knowledge of the game, but having false knowledge, on the other hand, could very well be worse than having no knowledge at all.  Most NA players have numerous misconceptions of the game, ideas that are just flat-out wrong, which can inevitably stunt their improvement, and thus, despite that they play a million games of Ballsita, they’ll still be at a low skill level.  This is presumably due to the fact that most NA Ballista players learn how to play from the wrong sources, such as people from random public forums who know little about the game.  Unfortunately, other than the content provided within this blog, there are no other reliable sources for Ballista in English anywhere on the internet.  Thus, people are stuck with my LS in terms of a reliable source.  There are, however, many trustworthy Japanese sources, but unless fluent in Japanese, most of those sources would be difficult to make sense of, even with using Google Translate.

It’s imperative that players understand where they stand amongst others.  In order to have a reasonable gauge, Ballista experience is obviously required, but modesty and admitting weakness are perhaps even greater necessities.  Without admitting weakness, a player will never have an accurate gauge of where he stands amongst others and therefore unable to distinguish the veterans from the novices.  Once able to differentiate the skill levels of other players accurately, pay close attention to what the better players do because even the most subtle of actions can change the tide of the game.  In a nutshell, it’s usually best to learn from the more experienced players.  It would be a waste of time to learn years worth of Ballista strategies through self efforts when they could be learned from veteran players through simpler and more efficient means.  Despite being able to identify the better players, one notable problem is how to learn from them—other than through observation.  There are only two other ways: (1) ask them for advice or (2) fight them in a fixed team setting in Diorama.  Otherwise, without direct contact, observation is the only method of learning from them, whether it be in-game or in videos.  Honestly, many well-respected players have Ballista videos uploaded on their Youtube channels that are open to the public, and studying their games is highly productive in terms of improving.

Watching veterans play also poses another problem: people just have no idea of what to look for while watching.  Since an average player typically lacks understanding of higher level play, he can only comprehend as much as his current knowledge allows him to, unable to notice the subtle actions that make veterans so skilled.  As they perceive professional games no different than ordinary play, their interest in continuing to watch quickly diminishes.  They can hardly understand the occurrences in their own games, so relating to games that are played at levels several magnitudes higher is impossible for them.  Perhaps this is due to the meager number of games that they have played.  In other words, the average player has not played enough games to have a strong grasp of the basic principles of Ballista, lacking the key mental framework.

When asking for advice, anyone would answer with some variation of the cliche ‘practice makes perfect’.  Although it may sound cheesy, this saying holds undeniable truth.  Playing more games, especially with veteran players, is absolutely one of the most effective methods of improving.  It promotes pattern recognition and gradually develops a mental framework for Ballista in the subconscious.

Despite playing more games, though, a player will have a difficult time advancing to understanding veteran level play without reflection and discussion; there must be a balance between practice and theory.  It’s true that a player would be able to recognize various patterns through playing several Ballista matches and become aware of which actions are effective.  However, they may still have a gap in their understanding.  Although they know what is right, they may not know why it’s right without reflection.  Analyzing why certain strategies work is just as important as playing, as the blend between practice and theory allows players to escalate from ordinary to extraordinary.

It has been mentioned a few times that playing with stronger players is effective in terms of improving, but most people fail to realize its imperativeness.  Playing with veterans validates whether or not a specific strategy will work.  As previously stated, many NA players have serious misconceptions of the game because they tend to play with amateurs.  They play against people who have practically no knowledge of the game, so—of course—even the lowest level of maneuvers or strategies will annihilate them.  This evolves into a greater predicament: they believe that their ideas are correct, since they reinforce their beliefs by crushing clueless opponents. Because of this, most NA lack an accurate gauge on the strengths and weaknesses of various jobs, claiming that <job X> is stronger than <job Y>, but in actuality, the strength should be based more on the user.  Moreover, allies should cover for each other’s job weaknesses in Ballista anyway, as it is a team game.  If they were to deploy similar tactics against experienced players, they would hopefully realize that they don’t work and develop a new strategy that does.


Well, even though there’s a lot more to be said, I think I’ll end it here for now.  I apologize if it’s a bit abrupt, but hopefully, I’ll be able to continue later on and delve deeper into strategies.  Since I wrote this on a whim, I also apologize that my ideas are all over the place.  Also, please, let me know if this was any help, and keep in mind that I’m open to any suggestions on other approaches I could take in writing the first legit Ballista handbook.  Thing.  In English.

In summary:
• Set a goal
• Discard false beliefs
• Learn from trustworthy sources
• Learn from more experienced players
• Practice and reflect
• Play against stronger opponents

Next topics of discussion:
• Play every job
• Don’t cut corners
• Basic, advanced, and undiscovered strategies

Also, for those who are having trouble with equipment sets, Evv’s ffxiah item sets will provide a better idea of what you should be using, and check the Lv60 Sync page for guidelines of how equipment syncs to Lv60.

Anyway, it’s 3am again.  3 large blog posts in 3 consecutive days -_-.  Time for bed.  Good night.

20 responses

  1. Teishi

    Another solid post! You broke it down pretty well.

    -Have respect
    -Try to understand why you win/lose games
    -Use your teammates
    -Play as many jobs as possible
    That’ll do it!

    On the other hand, if you:
    -Sub ninja on every job;
    -Run away at the first sight of danger;
    -Only consider petra/BP as a means of gauging skill,

    April 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm

  2. Stfutaru

    “-Only consider petra/BP as a means of gauging skill”

    Q_Q That’s what I do on PUP.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    • Teishi

      You also cause heavy hitters some major grief with your maton, etc

      April 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm

  3. V

    Common misconceptions:
    • Hiding and quarrying for 5 petras while your team takes a beating is mad good.
    • “I got top scorer of the match! Damn, I’m so fucking good!”
    • Ballista Points from official matches determine a player’s skill level.
    • Hit and run makes you a pro.
    • “I must survive at all costs, even if I’m running away with extremely low HP!”
    • Using items is cheating. People only use items to cover up their weaknesses.
    • “I’ll own you in 1v1”
    • Team games are for sissies who can’t do anything on their own.
    • “I’m better than these guys, so why should I rely on them? I would do better on my own.”
    • Soloing people signifies strength.
    • Diorama is just a place for brawl and carnage. There’s no reason to score.
    • X cap Ballista is more balanced than Y cap. [semi-misconception]
    (It’s true that 60 cap may be more balanced than the other caps, but the main reason why people are playing it is because all of the competition is in 60. Why would anyone play a cap that has no competition in it? “Hey, guys, I’ll own you in 30 cap. Derp.” Yea, no one’s going to give a shit.)

    If you have any of these misconceptions, then you’re probably not going to be any good at Ballista.


    May 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm

  4. Evviva


    But I’ll own you in 1v1?

    May 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    • V

      ok sayomi

      May 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm

  5. Evviva

    WHO TOLD YOU………..?!

    May 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm

  6. V

    Because I’m from Fenrir. I’m omnipotent and omniscient. You can call me almighty, Bruce Almighty.

    May 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm

  7. Stfutaru

    “I got top scorer of the match! Damn, I’m so fucking good!”
    Only a misconception if you’re not me. Bitches just jealous of my PUP that hides and quarries.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

  8. Trifid

    I’ll add my own small piece of advice. An important mechanic to improving ones ballista performance is to be able to understand the flow of battle and anticipate potential changes and react accordingly. The rook movements is a perfect example. When the rooks are going to move in the next 2 RL minutes I try and assess the situation

    1 rook match … where will the rook most likely move…. north or south
    2 rook match …. what position are my team members in , what are the enemies in, how many of my team members have petras to score and how many of the enemy potentially has breach, and how quickly can we move to defend the new positions versus our opponents

    These are a few things to consider. Depending on circumstances it may be advantageous… or even vital that I forego my chance at digging or scoring in order to block the rook either shortly before the move or right after, even if it means getting KOd and dropping my own petras in the process. If for example my own team had no breach and my enemy had a lot of scores incoming a block would be more advantageous than a quarry. However if my own team was loaded with scores coming and my enemy had very few people with fresh breach i would probably hold back.

    The most important thing to comprehend is the team aspect of ballista, and how each of your team members synergizes with your own role via support, be it offensive or defensive. Running from the rook or trying to ninja hide and score when nobody is looking is also not always best. I’ve often managed to score a few petras at the expense of a KO shortly after they got in, but if they go in then it’s already too late and the damage is done.

    Overall action and attentiveness is an important facet of improving ballista skill. There are times when you should be digging, and times when you should be acting, and for some jobs like ranger and most mages the two go hand in hand. Simply getting KOd isn’t the end of the world and doesn’t signify weakness…. getting KOD foolishly is what makes people frown at you, IE rushing the enemy when they’re well fortified with a rook to their back and a lot of people with petras waiting to score. On the other hand if I get Kod in the process of a team block and my side ends up with a better exchange than the enemies then I’ve done my job.

    Also I agree with the rule of playing multiple jobs. My personal goal is to play all 20 jobs in 60 cap, and I’ve got over half of them almost ready. That’s my personal goal. What’s everybody elses?

    May 4, 2012 at 11:43 pm

  9. V

    Thanks for the generous post, Trifid. I’m sure that you’re advice will help a lot of less experienced players. I commend you on the realization that ninja scoring doesn’t always work. In fact, it rarely does. It’s true that if nina scoring player may be able to drop 5 petras in, but that’s with the expense of your team having one less player to fight with, as well as the risk of feeding GB to many of the enemy players.

    Going to the point mentioning when to quarry or act, the key is to figure out a balance between quarrying and fighting. A player must be able to quarry without losing power. In the ninja scoring scenario, if the player decides to fall back and quarries, he would be lowering his team’s damage output (dealing no damage), as well as survivability (less players to absorb damage). And, well, we all already know the results of not quarrying at all: you lose.

    As for goals, playing every single job is respectable. By playing other jobs, you’ll be able to see the strengths and weaknesses through the individual jobs’ perspectives in comparison to each other. For example, using Provoke with PUP or DNC is clearly different than WAR. Since PUP and DNC Provokes are pretty gimp, practicing those jobs will allow a player to better understand when or how to use WAR Provoke. Likewise, switching between WHM and RDM would allow a player to understand the importance of MP conservation on each job, as well as other factors. The possibilities are endless, but a player must seek them out himself.

    Since you asked, my original goal from 2-3 years ago was to become the strongest WAR, as the job was fairly popular on Siren at the time. Of course, another was to defeat the seemingly unbeatable JP players. Currently, my goal is more for the community. I’ve been trying to help NA players catch up to high level Ballista—or at least have a better understanding of it. It would be nice to have a larger competitive NA community.

    May 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm

  10. Trifid

    On the note of rooks, there is something a JP taught me that I never knew before. Specifically that the rooks have patterns, or moreso, groupings in which they can … and cannot move to. Take a look at the map with rook placements

    The rule of thumb is that when the rooks move they will move either north or south. There are two distinct rooks, and they are divided into east and west. In the jugner forest zone for example, if there is only one rook it will ALWAYS spawn in the eastern half of the map, and is limited to exatly six spawn locations. The southern Davoi encampment, slightly west of davoi, east of the mountain, between the outpost and the mountain, the bridge, and the northeast most spawn by the north encampment. Two of these rooks are neutral (outpost and mountain) and two each favor a specific team (bridge and north, as well as davoi and southwest by davoi). When the rook moves it usually moves north and south, so if the rook is at davoi chances are good the next rook will pop at the bridge, mountain, or northeast encampment. Being ready to move in order to defend new placements shortly BEFORE the move occurs can make the difference between the enemy scoring twenty or only scoring ten, and in a 1 rook match this can be game breaking.

    In a TWO rook match however there is an east and a west rook… always. They move north and south, but move independently of the other. In jugner forest 2 rook battle the east rook is the same grouping as the 1 rook match, however the west rook is added and can spawn west of the outpost, (two locations in close proximity), northwest of the OP by the gap, west of the little gap, even farther west of that rook, and the far northwest. There will ALWAYS be a rook on the east side of the map, and ALWAYS a rook on the west. There will never be two rooks on either side, however they CAN both be north or both be south.

    Pashow groupings follow the same trend, split by east and west. You can have both rooks sitting by the north encampment or south encampment because they are divided by east and west, however you will never have for example, a rook at the pond AND a rook at the bridge because both of these rooks are grouped with the east side, and there is only ONE east rook, so the second rook MUST be west somewhere. Single rook pashow matches eliminate the west batch, just like jugner. There will only ever be east rooks in a 1 rook pashow… the western rooks can never spawn in 1 rook pashow matches…. EVER.

    The meriphitaud mountains groupings break the trend of the other two areas and are divided into north and south pairings, and unlike jugner and pashow the rooks move from east to west to account for the difference in battlefield terrain. The NORTH group is the only set that can spawn in a 1 rook match, and comprises the northeast encampment, the herald (both directly north and south), the northwest rook at the highest point of the battlefields altitude, the centralized southern encampment, and the southernmost western encampment. These are the only rooks capable of spawning in a 1 rook match. In a 2 rook match you add the southern grouping, which is comprised of the goblin fire camp’s central location, the rook east of the goblin camp, the rook in the middle of the field…. often referred to as the “hole” because its smack dab in the canyon, the southeastern most point below the north encampment, and the easternmost rook directly below the north encampment. In a 2 rook match there will ALWAYS be a north rook, and ALWAYS a south rook, so it is impossible to have a rook at the herald north and south because these are both grouped under “north” rooks. You CAN have two rooks east (IE northeast encampment and south of northeast encampment) and two rooks west (southern encampment and the goblin fire camp) because they still fall under north and south.

    So there you go…. rook groupings in a nutshell. It is important to not only be able to understand when to dig and when to act, but also where the rooks CAN and cannot spawn. If you can guess where the rook has a high chance of spawning before it happens you can use this knowledge to significantly alter the flow of battle in your teams favor.

    May 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm

  11. Great information Trifid, thanks for posting.

    To answer your earlier question;

    I have always been big on personal improvement, so in many ways, I’m always looking for ways to improve – be it through criticism or humility.
    The ever evolving community that I have joined (one year to date) has helped expedite this goal tremendously.

    Another personal goal of mine has been to promote communication and general awareness within the NA community.
    This goal has proven most difficult, as the feedback we have receivied does not reflect the effort we have put forth.
    I believe my universal goal has always been to seek out strong players to enrich the community/

    So if you are an aspiring ballista enthusiast reading this, please post a line and let us know you are out there~

    May 6, 2012 at 9:05 am

  12. mebb/gytrash/chirin

    I am that but afraid I’ve already been written off as a “lost cause”

    May 11, 2012 at 11:20 am

  13. Evviva

    /wave Gytrash!

    What server are you on currently?

    May 12, 2012 at 6:17 am

    • mebb/gytrash/chirin

      I will be on Lakshmi for at least 2 months more.

      May 12, 2012 at 8:36 am

      • Evviva

        Cool cool, I still have characters on Lakshmi.(Aatto/Scudo)

        I’ll make sure to get in contact with you as soon as possible.

        May 12, 2012 at 8:51 am

  14. Fuma

    I try :/
    Not always to great avail but I try.
    Just as a side note from a random person.
    Most scoring isnt done too often when one team has a certain rook, it is done, usually, when both teams are either at a rook or by a rook. Running to score helps but most THFs and such that are ninja scoring usually have 5+ petras anyway. Why ninja score and have to run back to get GB when you can score more quickly by helping kill enemies and scoring and quarrying.
    Rook placement has always been a flaw for me.
    That and my own certainty in my own abilities as well as my own skill level.
    ANYWAY good post.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:30 am

  15. V

    “Why ninja score and have to run back to get GB when you can score more quickly by helping kill enemies and scoring and quarrying.”

    Yea, a lot of people don’t understand that it’s usually better to help your teammates in openning an avenue for scoring rather than trying to sneak a ton of petras in by yourself.

    Thanks for stopping by, Fuma. Man, I thought you were dead or something. Haven’t seen you in a while.

    May 13, 2012 at 3:57 am

  16. Evviva

    “Learn from trustworthy sources”

    The big one.

    May 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

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