It’s Okay To Struggle With the Sprouts, FFXIV Veterans

Not everyone is meant to be a mentor.

I’ve heard teaching can be fulfilling. There’s power in taking a young or inexperienced mind and watching it blossom under your tutelage. Passing on your knowledge to someone ensures a long, bright future for your community.

Sometimes, though, you just want to finish your Duty Roulettes.

The number of players in the Final Fantasy XIV community has exploded. There’s a number of factors behind that growth — a sense of malaise around World of Warcraft and several of that game’s streamers jumping ship — but it’s become a noticeable part of daily play. Logging in now tends to greet me with server queues. Certain lower-level regions that were dead zones now bustle with life. Dungeon runs tend to go poorly more often than they used to, too… 

These new members of our FFXIV community are marked by a tiny sprout icon next to their names, branding them as “New Adventurers.” This system has always been a part of FFXIV (at least since its A Realm Reborn launch) and means to let you know when you should take it easy on a less experienced player, and when you might need to slow down and explain the details of an encounter, rather than rush ahead and pull everything in your path. There are similar icons for returning players, roleplayers, free trial users, and mentors.

The abundance of these so-called Sprouts means instanced encounters in your daily Duty Roulettes may have now taken on an air of greater risk. Before, there was always a slight bit of hesitation within my heart on certain Duty Roulettes, like Leveling or Main Scenario. In the Leveling queue, there’s always the fear that you might end up in a dud like the Thousand Maws Of Toto-Rak or Cutter’s Cry. In the Main Scenario list, you could roll snake eyes and get the dreaded Praetorium. Generally, though, roulettes would stay within the current expansion and a bit of the previous one, because most of the community was at the same level and playing the same content. 

FFXIV's Praetorium
The one screen veteran players don’t want to see in Duty Roulettes

Now the duty roulette is a free-for-all. Once you dive in, you never know what you’re going to get. These are truly Roulettes now.

Not only are players more spread out across the whole of FFXIV content, but they’re all learning as they go. I’m going to be real: I hadn’t run Dusk Vigil for a very long time until last week. And it did take slightly longer than I expected to guide the party through the last encounter. Hell, I find myself needing a refresher on some of these early, ostensibly easier fights. Duty Roulettes have always had the occasional horror story — there’s an entire thread on the official forums about such moments — but I feel like there are more than ever now.

“As a Bard, I finished off the last boss in Cutter’s Cry with about fourth of his health yesterday with three sprouts napping on the floor,” recounts one Reddit user

“I was a fake Sprout in a dungeon recently, but my memory served me so well that I was basically a real Sprout. Four Sprouts in Wanderer’s Palace,” added another Reddit user. “We did so many laps around the place trying to unlock the doors. No wipes, just five minutes of purely being lost. It was entertaining.”

Those are stories on the funnier side, but I’ve also seen a decent amount of rage at Sprouts, especially those who happen to find themselves in Extreme fights (more mechanically complex versions of existing battles). The truth is, sometimes you just want to get in and out. You want to clean up your Duty Roulette or Wondrous Tails with the limited time you have, not have to hammer away at one fight for another 30 minutes. If you’ve already done The Great Gubal Library more than 20 times, you probably don’t appreciate the most recent run being your longest. 

FFXIV Aurum Vale
One of the dungeons you rarely want to run with sprouts in FFXIV

I sympathize with you. Not everyone is meant to teach. We don’t all have hours to burn each day or every week. It’s okay to struggle a bit when it comes to jumping into the Duty Roulette and ending up on Aurum Vale with three Sprouts while you’re a DPS. It’s alright to grit your teeth a bit when you land in Toto-Rak with fresh blood. 

But I also caution you to calm down a bit. A lot of this situation with the Duty Roulettes is in flux; it will eventually pass. We all started somewhere, not knowing the fights or even how a specific job or role works. It took us all a while as a community to get to the late expansion cycle where the entire squad just silently facerolls raids and trials. You were once that Sprout falling to your death off Titan (don’t pretend you never did). These new players will eventually become veterans; a community remains strong if it keeps adding new faces, so we should instead look to this influx as a blessing. 

In fact, that’s essentially what the Duty Roulettes are there for: they’re a way to get the veteran community running older dungeons and trials. Without the Roulettes, new players joining Final Fantasy XIV now would be met with longer queue times, if the Duty Finder found other players at all. They force players backwards to give leveling players a better experience. In the end, we all need to get through Praetorium the first time around. 

If you have that spark that makes you want to help out and teach new players, become a mentor. And even if you don’t, perhaps have a bit of patience for those at least willing to learn over the course of a dungeon. The only way we’re getting through this is together.

For your own sanity, however, I recommend skipping the Leveling and Main Scenario roulettes every now and then, if you’re not eager to level alternate jobs or grind out tomestones. Sometimes, the best way through a problem is to just not put yourself in the same bad situation. Take a break. Do some crafting and gathering. Maybe hitch your ride to a Fate train. It’s okay to take a knee every now and then. Just like it’s okay to struggle with the Sprouts! Just don’t let that struggle turn to hate and derision. That’s what will ultimately bring down this great community we’ve created over these many years. 

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