Anyone who plays Final Fantasy XI will know that one of the earliest items you attain in the game is one of three rings that can be used to temporarily boost your experience point gain — the Chariot Band, the Empress Band, and the Emperor Band. Each have differing statistics and grant different amounts of XP over differing periods of time, but cost a different amount to balance it out. This much, we all know. The question which I’ve decided to answer, however, is this: Which one is the best choice?
First, let’s just take a look at the rings themselves. (Images courtesy of FFXIclopedia.)
Thankfully, all of the rings have the same re-use cooldown timer (16 hours), the same level/race restrictions (none), and only one of the three can ever be owned at a time. This simplifies things immensely, but there are still various differences that must be taken into account. We’ll take a look at them one at a time.
Firstly, the initial cost — the rings must be purchased and recharged with either Conquest Points, Allied Notes, or Imperial Standing. Since it’s the same amount per currency, and for simplicity, I’m going to refer to the ‘value’ of these rings in terms of XP per CP — that is, how much potential bonus experience can be granted for each Conquest Point (or other currency) spent. You can only own one ring at a time — either a Chariot, Empress, or Emperor, never more than one or all three — with a full set of charges, then pay CP to recharge used-up charges at a later date. For the initial cost, it looks like this:
|XP Ring||Initial Cost||XP per CP|
|Chariot Band||500 CP||7XP/1CP|
|Empress Band||1000 CP||7XP/1CP|
|Emperor Band||2000 CP||3XP/1CP|
So from the initial cost alone, the Emperor Band looks appalling! At merely 3 charges giving a potential 2000 XP per charge, but costing 2000 CP to purchase, it’s the clear loser so far. But don’t stop reading yet, it all changes soon, because we’re going to look at the recharge costs.
So you’ve used up your ring, and it’s time to bring it in for a recharge. Well, the recharge cost is a flat-rate 200 CP per charge, regardless of which ring you use, though you can recharge only once per conquest tally. Given the 16-hour re-use timer, however, this is hardly worth considering in the analysis. But given that each ring has a different XP bonus, doesn’t this mean the XP/CP ‘value’ of each recharge differs? Yes, yes it does:
|XP Ring||XP per Charge||XP per CP|
Suddenly, the tables are turned. Not only is the Emperor Band by far the most XP/CP-efficient for recharging amongst all of the rings, but the ratio for recharging the ‘lesser’ two rings is, in fact, not even worth the cost! A Chariot Band would take 1400 CP to recharge to full, while you could simply throw it away and buy a new one for a much more reasonable 500 CP!
By this logic, there is simply never any reason to recharge a Chariot Band or Empress Band — throwing away the empty husk and buying a new, fully-charged ring is cheaper and better in every conceivable way, including avoiding the lengthy time it’d take to build the rings back up to full charges. The Emperor Band, on the other hand, is now the king of XP/CP efficiency, given that despite its initial cost, after only one recharge, it already becomes more XP/CP-efficient than tossing and re-buying the other two rings. So is the Emperor Band now the clear choice? Not quite. Let’s look at the XP gain per buff.
Each of the XP buffs from the rings lasts until either a fixed amount of time has passed, or until the maximum amount of bonus XP has been earned. I’m fairly sure that logging out of the game stops the timer on the buff, allowing a player to resume where they left off without any wasted time, but I haven’t confirmed this yet. Regardless, when choosing a ring, it’s important to take into account how much time you can put into the game each day (or every 16 hours), and pick accordingly.
The amount of ‘natural’ XP gained to earn the optimal XP/CP ratio per ring is listed below. I say ‘natural’ XP, meaning the amount of XP you earn before the bonus is applied on top. Don’t be mistaken by the increased XP gain from the buff; the ‘natural’ XP listed below is the actual amount you must earn unbuffed, while the ‘total’ XP is the amount you must earn including the buff, for simplicity’s sake.
|XP Ring||XP Boost||Natural XP||Total XP|
|Chariot Band||+75%||665 XP||1165 XP|
|Empress Band||+50%||2000 XP||3000 XP|
|Emperor Band (7XP/1CP)*||+50%||2800 XP||4200 XP|
|Emperor Band (10XP/1CP)*||+50%||4000 XP||6000 XP|
* There is one caveat to take into account. While 4000 ‘natural’ XP may seem like a hell of a lot to gain every 16 hours, for a causual player, the Emperor Band is ahead of the other two in terms of XP/CP efficiency — 10XP/1CP, compared to the potential 7XP/1CP of the others, when using the toss-and-rebuy method. So for the Emperor Band to equal the other rings in terms of efficiency, you need merely earn 2800 natural XP, or 4200 buffed. Anything on top of this is simply bonus, so don’t forget to bear this in mind.
Since the ring buff expires either when the total bonus XP has been earned or when the timer runs out, it’s important to bear in mind a continual rate of XP gain in order to not let the buff expire and go to waste. Thankfully, the rate of gain is something that most people could easily achieve:
|XP Ring||Required Gain|
|Emperor Band (7XP/1CP)||13XP/minute|
|Emperor Band (10XP/1CP)||19XP/minute|
The bigger the ring’s capacity, the more XP/minute you need to earn — and even though the Emperor Band is a little more flexible, reaching almost the level of the Empress Band when only earning a 7XP/1CP efficiency, I don’t think anyone would find it difficult to earn a full 19XP/minute, and likely a great deal more at just about any level or point in the game when an XP ring’s buff would be in use.
Finally, the potential total amount of bonus XP per day, when using the ring at every possible cooldown, must be taken into account. This is straightforward, and exactly what we’d expect. At maximum efficiency, it goes like this:
|XP Ring||Bonus XP per Day|
At this point, it’s clear that the choice of ring is determined solely by the amount of time you can invest in the game — if you have enough time to earn at least 2800-4000 unbuffed XP per 16 hours, and can manage a rate of 13-19 unbuffed XP/minute when using the ring’s buff, then the Emperor Band is the clear choice in terms of both gain and XP/CP efficiency, standing head and shoulders above the others. Also, with only a maximum of 3/3 charges, it’s the quickest to recharge to full, though you’ll be visiting the city guards frequently thanks to its low cap.
The Chariot Band and Empress Band may share the same 7XP/1CP ratio with the toss-and-rebuy method, but Empress wins out in terms of double the potential daily XP, at the cost of higher XP/minute and more XP required to use up the buff. Even the humble Chariot Band is hard to go wrong with, if you’re limited in terms of play-time, though bear in mind the system seems heavily skewed in terms of rewarding the more dilligent players — in other words, the more you play, the more bonus XP you’ll be earning on top.
Whichever ring you choose, just remember the most important lesson learned: Always recharge the Emperor Band, and never recharge the Chariot or Empress.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this article helps. Enjoy your time in Vana’diel!