An Expeditionary Force is the most efficient way to conquer a region of Vana'diel. You are basically signing up with your country's Conquest Guards to go to an un-owned region and earn a bunch of Region Points by finding beastman banners and fighting the beastmen that are spawned from them. The goal in doing this is to try and take control of the region for the next conquest tally. If it is successful, each participating member of the Expeditionary Force, or EF, can receive a number of Conquest Points for themselves as well as gaining Regional control.
All players in an EF group must have Rank 3 in their nation or higher.
You cannot do an EF for a nation that is not your own. You also can't do an EF for a nation that is controlled by an allied country. So if San d'Oria was in first, and owned enough regions that Bastok and Windurst were allied, a group of Windurstians could not do an EF for a Bastok controlled Region.
You must gather a party of at least 4 (the minimum number varies with your nation's standing) of your countrymen and speak with your National Conquest Overseer guards. You can only take EF missions from the guards in your home city; you cannot take them from Jeunoan Ducal Guards or the Consuls in other countries. The required minimum number of members is:
1st Place: 6 members
2nd Place: 5 members
3rd Place: 4 members
When you speak to the City Conquest Guards and look at the list of EFs available you will see a number next to the Region name. This is the level minimum.
EF's have level caps. You can see what it is for each region in the chart below. You are only capped once you actually spawn the NMs.
Unlike Level Sync, any status effects you have before being capped will persist after capping, with their effect and duration unchanged.
Speak with a city Conquest Guard according to your allegiance and choose the option to do an Expeditionary Force. You will be offered a selection of Regions to Conquer. To be offered a region you must have visited at least one zone in that region, possibly the Outpost zone, and your country must not currently be in control of the region.
In order to join an EF, you must be in a party with at least the minimum number of qualified participants (rank 3 or higher, high enough level) in the zone. Once all conditions have been met, asking to join an EF will cause the overseer to give you the status effect of "EF Badge" (crossed-swords icon).
Once your party all has an EF Badge, you may then speak to the guard again to receive your Glyph and be teleported to the zone in the Region in which you will be fighting. The Glyph you receive, is essentially a free Warp back to your city, to the gate you started your EF at, so make sure you have inventory space or else you may have a long walk back.
Wait for the rest of your party to finish getting their EF Badge. If you leave before a member of your party has received it, they may no longer have the minimum number of qualified participants in their zone to get their own EF Badge, and be unable to join you.
It is not necessary for all members of the party to sign up for a particular EF mission, or even sign up for one at all.
If you have more than six participants but not enough for two qualifying parties, you can juggle your party membership around until everyone has their EF Badge.
Upon talking to the overseer again and being teleported to the target region, you will lose your EF Badge status and instead have a "<region name> EF Insignia" in your temporary key items. You will also be given a "gate glyph" item in your inventory, which is a single-use item that will teleport you back to the town gate you were originally teleported from.
You may only hold one gate glyph per town. You will not earn a second gate glyph if you join a second EF from a different gate.
Once you arrive in the zone your party must hunt down a "Beastmen's Banner." These randomly spawn in one of five static spawnpoints found throughout the zone.
Once you find a Beastmen's Banner, gather everyone together to buff up before the battle. Then have one player, preferably with high evasion or blink, go and click on the flag, which is targetable. This will spawn 4 beastmanNMs that you must defeat. When the banner is touched, everyone in the party/alliance will become level capped.
To be successful in an EF, you must be able to quickly dispatch this group of monsters and then find the next Beastman flag and fight once again. This has the effect of a Conquest Chain. I.e.: the more flags you can defeat in succession, the more influence you will earn for your nation in a region. It takes about 5 minutes after the flag despawns for it to reappear at one of its locations; it can respawn in the same location. However, the EF is technically active as long as you have the insignia. You can still gain Region Points in this way until the next conquest tally.
After you've defeated the NMs, you have about 30 seconds to click on the flag to remove the level cap. If you choose not to remove the level cap, it will wear off after about 15 minutes.
The level cap will wear off after 15 minutes regardless of whether you are done fighting the notorious monsters. The banner will need to be touched again to continue the battle.
You will be unable to start a battle at a new banner if at least one person in your alliance still has the level cap from a previous banner.
You can also gain influence in the Region by going to the local regional dungeons and opening treasure chests and coffers. This only counts while you have that Region's EF Insignia. Since you carry the insignia until the next conquest tally, you have until then to open any chests and coffers (in other words, it doesn't need to be done in the middle of your EF battles).
If you and your group are able to influence the region enough that it is controlled by your country at the next conquest tally, you can then go to your National Conquest Guard to receive your reward, which is a large number of Conquest Points.
1 region: 3000 CP
2 regions: 4200 CP
3 regions: 4800 CP
4 regions: 5160 CP
The reward received is based on the current conquest results, and need not be the week immediately following the EF, provided you do not talk to your nation's gate guards until then (i.e. get Signet from Jeuno, consulates in foreign nations, or friendly outposts).
It is recommended that players use their highest-level job, regardless of the level cap, as beneficial status effects will persist when you are capped.
Bards are a good job to bring as the NMs can usually be slept.
Be wary of AoE attacks/spells and DoTs. If you are planning on sleeping the NMs, these will make that impossible.
It is very helpful to have a designated person call out which target to attack. That way the other NMs can be slept and everyone can focus on just one. It can also be helpful to use an assist macro to make it easier to attack the right mob. /assist PlayerName
The NMs that spawn can be of any job type that is available to the type of Beastmen. It is random as to which jobs will spawn.
The NMs can and will use two-hours. These can be pretty painful from some mobs, such as Summoners.
Summoners will instantaneously summon an avatar-type summon for Astral Flow, even if their spirit-type summon is still out.
Dragoons will use Call Wyvern as their two-hour ability.
If you're fighting a Beastmaster, do not kill its pet until the Beastmaster is dead. Otherwise he may Charm a party member and make things uglier than they need to be.
Pets will always despwan after their owners are killed, including Dragoon wyverns and Beastmaster pets.
You will gain XP at the rate of your true level, not your capped level.
If you are KO'd while level capped, you will lose the amount of XP you would at the level you are capped at.
You can do EFs for more than one Region over the course of the week. The more Regions you do, and conquer at the next conquest tally, the more Conquest Points you will receive as a reward.
You will not receive the full Conquest Points reward for additional regions beyond the first.
The reward is based on attendance, not participation. Provided that you were in a party that killed at least one of the EF monsters, or you opened a chest or coffer in one of the dungeons in the targeted region (i.e. do one of the two activities that produce a message in your log about increased regional influence), you will receive the full reward.
Being in a party in which a member opened a chest may also qualify you.
Two countries can be doing an EF at the same time in the same zone.
The Region Points for killing the NMs goes to whichever country spawned them. If Bastok and San d'Oria are both doing an EF in a Region and Bastok spawns the NMs, but San d'Oria ends up killing them, Bastok will get the credit.
Defeating one of the NMs will change your title to "Expeditionary Trooper."