Let me start of by saying empathy is a fantastic underutilized trait that you should be getting benefits from without even trying. If just for giving your wyvern protect and shell, it's very useful for prolonging your wyverns lifespan. You should always be keeping your wyvern alive so you should be using spirit link semi-regularly, and if you're not in any danger of having your wyvern take damage, empathy allows you to spirit link at 100%petHP so you could be using it even MORE frequently.
I can't comment on this too much. The only endgame I used to do was Limbus and some Dynamis, that was about it. Depending on the Dynamis and size, it wasn't difficult to keep my wyvern alive without Empathy. Limbus, it was usually a non-issue; on some floors--like the slimes floor in Temenos and Apollyon--your wyvern is going to die no matter how many Empathy buffs you copy over and how often you Spirit Link.
Anything stronger than that and Pro/Shell won't stop the inevitable--a dead wyvern.
Now for some examples of how to use, what my friends and I have dubbed "MEDISPIRITLINKITATE!!!™"
One of the best ways to use this /sam is as a shortcut with our newly aquired subjob ability, sekkanoki. You can use MEDISPIRITLINKITATE™ as a shortcut while building up to 200%~ for an easy self skillchain, or just for some drakes ravaging.
TP up to about 120~, by this time your wyvern should have 80-100TP as well. Sekka > spirit link and you'll be at about 180TP~ ws and there you go. another 100TP to burn instantly.
How does this relate to Empathy? Any DRG can do that without merits in it.
I'm not entirely sure why you downplayed it's use while EP soloing. In case you've forgotten, EPs are the best target for these dozens of magian trials there are to do. (I myself am working on 5, maybe 6 polearms) It's pretty bad ass popping out 2 ws back to back when you're /mage, doubly awesome when you're working on a stingray.
If anything, I was suggesting that Spirit Link was at its most useful for EP soloing... Not sure why you thought I was downplaying it.
Besides that, when soloing harder monsters, as long as you're not spamming HBs, you can still use spirit link before you trigger a cure to get a free 20-50TP. Just be smart about when you use it, 5 levels adds a fair chunk of extra HP to keep yourself a little safer.
When do you solo anything considered "hard" that doesn't require HB spam? It's very polarized. Either you fight EP-DC mobs that are severely nerfed by Signet/Sigil bonuses, or you fight EM-T targets which will still leave you recasting a few seconds later, no matter how strong your HB setup is. Greater Colibri are about the easiest "hard" solo I can think of; at 75, your wyvern won't have time to build a meaningful store of TP. I haven't bothered fighting them at 80 but considering that Sanction doesn't have the DEF/EVA bonus Signet and Sigil have, I imagine it's still the same situation.
Again, though, this is an issue independent of Empathy.
Maybe you never sub mage in a party circumstance, but I do ALL THE TIME. /whm rocks my socks, and most people are happy to have me come it. And the thing about parties, is generally, someone has shadows and doesn't need constant cures, or even there's a mage, PLD or dnc throwing out cures topping people off too. MEDISPIRITLINKITATE™! is awesome here as well.
Actually, I can count the number of times I've joined an EXP party as /sam on one hand. I've also /maged a fair bit in Limbus. I've led 28-30k/hr parties as drg/whm (or /blu usually, I play aggressively and end up tanking often); my HB set is fully maxed ('sides that new Lancer's Torque). I'm just as crazy about /whm as you are. Outside of Nyzul, Empathy is useless to me; whatever is going to kill my wyvern is going to kill it, no matter what Protect or Shell I copy over. There's an argument for haste but considering that the process is randomized, you'll probably snag Hasso, Pro/Shell, or whatever other buffs you might have on you.
Again... the Spirit Link TP transfer is independent of Empathy.
And let's be serious, we've already got morons REMOVING angon merits cause of that stupid fkin -def down magian weapon. Strafe is useless as @#%^. Half the retards playing drg are too stupid/lazy to actually use deep breathing. So why not merit Empathy? At the very least, drg/thf Flee > spirit link is hillarious.
Agreed on all points! Except the Empathy sentiment.*
Edit: Typos. And clarifying my feelings about Empathy. *cough* Edited, Jul 30th 2010 9:42pm by jprvoices