Well, it's been a couple of days since I posted one of my ridiculously long guides, so I'm getting slack. Anyway, this one is kind of a "What you didn't know about beastmaster..." guide. Having been playing my BST for the past couple of weeks, I've partied a few times and I've been surprised at how little people tend to know about the job. Thus, this guide is born.
Point 1: The Truth
Beastmasters can make an extremely valuable addition to your party. They wear the same heavy armour as warriors, so with a WAR sub they can make adequate tanks. Additionally, by inviting a beastmaster you're effectively inviting TWO characters for the price of one, because their pets are usually as strong or stronger than a same-level player would be. Also, it's important to stress that beastmasters do not gimp your EXP. The Brady guide is full of useless BS like that but it's absolutely not true. IF the BST charms a pet that is one or more levels higher than the highest level character in the party, then YES, you will lose EXP. Say you have a 14-16 party, and the beastmaster is 16. Say he charms a mob that is T to him (the enemy is level 17). You are now a 14-17 party, and just like a player the EXP gain goes against the highest-level in the group.
However, BSTs will only charm T or stronger enemies in emergency situations, because Charm doesn't last nearly as long if the pet is higher than EM. Now, the BST may lose EXP (if his pet is still alive at the end of battle and still charmed, HE and ONLY HE will lose about 30% EXP from the total gain) but that does not count for anyone else's EXP.
Point 2: A Good Spot to Camp
If you have a beastmaster in your party, there will be a few extra things to consider. For one thing, your campsite will need to have IT enemies for your party to fight as well as EM/DC enemies nearby for the beastmaster to charm (until later when beastmasters can summon their own pets). Sometimes this can be challenging, but some zones are great for this. I was charming EM mandragoras right next to IT dhalmels and zus last night in Buburimu. It all depends on the zone you're in.
Point 3: BST's Role in a Party
Beastmasters are pretty versatile in a party, believe it or not. Because they're one-man armies, they have to be good at a number of different things. As mentioned before, by subbing WAR a beastmaster can make a decent tank (especially at lower levels). Beastmasters are skilled with both one-handed axe and scythe, and can wield swords, clubs, staffs and daggers as well, so they're pretty versatile for skill-chains. A BST with a WHM sub can make a great status-remover and backup-healer, too. And of course, there's always their pets. The higher your party's level, the stronger and more effective their pets become. Just be aware that they can only charm DC and EM prey, and if charm fails or wears off at a bad time they may need help controlling the situation until they've recharmed their pet.
Point 4: The Finer Points of Beastmaster
The beastmaster 2-hour ability is called "Familiar". What this does is make the beastmaster's pet stronger and makes charm last for AGES, even on IT enemies. In a party scenario this can be a lifesaver. If the party picks up an aggro link, the beastmaster can charm it, Familiar it, and lead it off to some far corner. If they have the beastmaster skill Leave, they can release their pet without aggro. If not, they can zone the pet (but please don't zone aggro enemies on other parties!) to release it, or they can just run off somewhere to let it kill them, taking it away from the party.
Other notable beastmaster abilities include Stay, which commands the pet to stay where it is and stop following the beastmaster (useful for charming links, ordering them to stay, then calling a retreat), Reward (allows the beastmaster to feed its pet a biscuit to restore its HP), Sic (this is the cool one, Sic allows a beastmaster to command its pet to use their special abilities when they have TP... for instance, a beastmaster can Sic to make his pugil pet use Screwdriver...very very cool), and of course Charm. Charm has a recast timer of 15 seconds, so if a charm fails and the potential pet aggros (and it does happen), give the BST a moment and he can attempt to Charm again and reclaim his pet.
Point 5: Food
Beastmasters (myself included) often take up cooking as our craft of choice. This allows us to turn a water cluster and two stacks of pineapples (three inventory slots) into a dozen pineapple juices (twelve inventory slots). Obviously, this is very very useful to us in the field when we're soloing. But, this can also be put to use for our parties. If you see your beastmaster field-synthing drinks and you'd like one, polite ettiquette suggests that you should offer to buy one from him. If party-members want my cooking services in the field, I only charge them the material costs.
Beastmasters have a larger selection of food items to choose from than any other job. Meat mithkabobs are always a good stand-by choice, but meat chiefkabobs are better for the +1 CHR. Any "tea" item such as Windurstian or San d'Orian Tea will give CHR+, as will things like Flint Caviar and Timbre Timbers Salad. Sometimes we might opt for pies for the MP+, or we might want breads or fish mithkabobs/boiled crabs if we're in a tanking role. So, if you see your beastmaster popping something other than a mithkabob, don't yell at him.... He probably has a good reason for it.
Point 6: Why Party with a Beastmaster?
Well, as I've already said, there are a lot of benefits to inviting a beastmaster. They can tank for you, backup-heal for you, handle links, melee quite effectively, and they give you a free extra party member.
Why would a beastmaster choose to party if we're so good at soloing? Well, lots of reasons really. Sometimes the EXP flows faster in a good group than solo, or maybe the BST is stuck in a particularly nasty level (13 was hell for me) where there aren't a lot of charming options. At this time it's advantageous for the BST to party. Also, there's the social aspect. Just because someone is a beastmaster, that doesn't necessarily mean they're an antisocial git. I enjoy partying, even as a beastmaster. I may not have my flag up, but I probably wouldn't turn down a /tell offering a party, either. It just depends on how I'm doing soloing, what kind of mood I'm in, etc.
So, hopefully this post will help encourage everyone to try partying with a beastmaster sometime. The job was unfairly maligned by that damnable, hated Brady guide, so the popular belief is that BST is a "solo-only" job. Hopefully you guys will go out there and find out for yourself that BST can be a lot of fun to party with!