how much are Beasts capable of now days?
They are capable of soloing at least 95% of Abyssea NMs, although this may be alot more tedious than gathering a group of 2 or 3. They can solo alot of old NMs and HNMs too with great ease. This is all owed to the awesome evasive capabilties of Thief-type Familiars and a whole new host of pet enhancement gear.
Can you solo your AF3 upgrades?
Yes, pretty sure they could solo every piece, although it may be a lot less tedious to do this is small groups rather than solo. If you really
want to solo I would suggest at least dragging a Black Mage along, for "Yellow stagger" (greatly increases drop rate of items used to upgrade AF3 pieces).
Abby NM's for atmas, and/or rare/ex gear?
Atmas require "Red Stagger" to be collected from NMs, which is procured by using certain weapons skills on these NMs. While you can solo these NMs you may not have the required weapons skills available on Beastmaster to be able to "Red stagger" and thus you will not obtain the atma. Beastmaster does have access to a few of these weapons skills, but only through certain subjobs, /WAR bestowing the most amount of "Red stagger" weapon skills.
How is VW as a Beast? I don't know much about VW at all, having just came back to FFXI, but how do Beasts hold up there?
I'm not that much experienced in Voidwatch myself, but I can tell you that based of leader's reluctance to invite me on Beastmaster I can only assume they are not all that great for this battlefield.
I see a lot of the higher level Beastmasters running around with the same few pets. Falcor, Slime, NurseryLamb...are those just the best of the best, or are the other 99 cap broth pets viable as well?
One thing that SE did right with the post 75 evolution of Beastmaster is make a lot of viable Familiar options. Whereas before choices were clear due to very imbalanced pets, now the new pets have their own advantages and disadvantages leaving you to pick one based on personal preference or situation. However this not the case for all of them, there are a few that have been outclassed, but it's not an issue as there are still many viable Jug pets to choose from. Here is a list of some Jug pets that can be useful and their reasons; Gorefanghobs
: Very good DD, Very fast running speed, AoE paralyze attack Dipperyuly
: Best evasive tank, possess debilitating TP moves to further enhance defensive ability. Has TH1 and gilfinder, very high wind resistance. Falcor
: Also a good evasive tank, but with more offensive power than Dipperyuly, Choke breath is useful if the target creature is sussceptible to this move. Has TH1 and gilfinder. GooeyGerard
: Possesses high HP, very cheap, inflicts "slow" on attacks, often used as a Tank, but rarely more effective than the evasive tanks. LuckyLulush
: Not sure how this compares with Gorefanghobs as a DD overall, but you can do some very nasty Foot kicks, as an added bonus he can AoE heal the party as well as himself with Wild Carrot. DapperMac
: Great physical tank, guards alot which mitigates alot of damage overtime, it is very lackluster in the DD department though. CraftyClovonne
: Increases exp gain, not really any other reason why you would use this. Discreetlouise
: I find this one great for PvP, using a Zoolater hat or a Glyph Axe open up with Silence Gas it does a lot of damage and cripples magic users.
Oh and try to avoid NurseryNazuna unless; You have Monster Gloves+2 or You are level 96 or under (both of these assuming you have Beast Affinity merits capped).
Also, I see most Beasts subbing /Dnc now days, is that the way to go?
/DNC is the best subjob for utility, /NIN will produce more damage because of higher tier Dual wield.
And if anybody reads this, and has any notable BCNMs or encounters you think I should hit while leveling up, drop them here! This should be a fun adventure.
Birds of a Feather can be soloed at level 30, Beastmaster is also great in alot of BCNMs as part of a team for example Royal Jelly. Of particular interest are ones that drop Utsusemi Ni (price for this spell is very high at current) and Kraken club (although it has a very low droprate). At 99 Beastmaster can solo KCNM Kindergarten Cap and Horns of War, both of which have fairly decent spoils.
Is BST the right job for me?
The only question I am unable to answer.
The job has changed ALOT since 75cap, before these radical changes BST solos required alot of a skill and were exciting, now your solo ability is directly influenced by how much pet enhancing gear you have, how much food you are willing to cram into your familiars and lastly how long you are willing to sit there and watch a HP bar fall. Also the journey of leveling solo the entire way has been completely replaced by "get to level 30 and leech exp the rest of the way", which I find very saddening since the solo struggle was the best part about the job.
If you witnessed the job back then and have decided to try it based on what you saw, you may find that it is not what you expected. But the only way to find out truly is to give it a try, I'm sure that despite my negative view on the job's evolution there is still alot of fun to be had for the new generation of Beastmasters.