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Tips and Tricks for Tank Rotations

Below you’ll find some pretty generic but useful nonetheless tips and tricks for doing rotations on your tank, either WAR or PLD work here and you’ll see both mentioned down below. Keep in mind that this is regarded as being one of the better rotations for both however some information (such as when Heavensward comes out) will be dated at some point and an edit will appear when that happens to fix the outdated info or simply to add what’s new and better.

For PLD I always use Rampart first, it's a reasonably high mitigation with a good enough cool down that if you use it first it'll be up again when you need it, and using it in the start of a fight gives your healer's a bit of a break and lets you build enmity care-free as well. Out of habit (from Twintania mostly) I use Foresight on its own, usually with Convalescence. Honestly it's all contextual, depending on the fight I'll use different abilities together based on who I'm running with and what the situation is looking like. More CDs are used at spaced intervals with good groups where I know there won't be an “Oh Shit” moment, and in worse groups (either dungeon or players) I save more CDs so I can save myself when the healer is inevitably busy healing a melee or raising somebody and needs their MP or is too busy to deal with me getting hit, this includes spamming Stoneskin on myself to keep my HP as high as possible and cycling out CDs when I know I'll be hit for higher damage.

There's really (imo) no set “always use this ability with another” to be honest, and anybody who says so is biased (which is okay, but not so good for advice). There are some abilities however that have nice synergy, Convalescence and Bulwark work well together, I use those together on fights like Dreadnaught so that when I don't block, the healer gets boosted heals and I often use Foresight & Awareness together because both are pretty weak on their own (and bosses in coil don't crit anyways so it's mostly an add thing) or Foresight & Convalescence for Twintania for the last CD before phase change (this is entirely based on our group's strat of one tank holding Twintania through all phases and it's based off our kill speed for example).

I also combine Fight or Flight w/ Bloodbath (same cooldowns) for the similar reason as I explain below with WAR, though of course it's less effective than WAR's brand. Like others have undoubtedly said I save Hallowed Ground until I know I'll need it, a healer is low on MP and needs a break or I'm getting wrecked so hard I start bleeding from every orifice suddenly. As the most trollish skill in the game HG takes a good half-second or more to actually kick in and I've died several times to pressing it too late or pressing it in the middle of a WS animation and the combined delay was long enough for me to bite it. Still, it's good to use when you know you'll need it rather than waiting for when you will need it, PLD is far more proactive than reactive (like WAR) like that.

For WAR, Featherfoot whenever it's up because I just don't see any reason not to, Foresight and Convalescence usually get paired whenever I remember and I have a macro that executes Bloodbath and Berserk at the same time because they have the same timer and each has really good synergy with the other, I mean why wouldn't you want the highest damage buff you've got to be paired with your 25% HP recovery? When paired with a buffed Inner Beast I've done 1k+ Inner beast (which is 1,000HP healed) plus the 25% from Bloodbath giving me a hefty 1.5k heal. It's not super common, but I've gotten it often in the 600-1.1k range depending on which buffs were up. (see, this is my bias~ but it's also based on logic so take it w/ a grain of salt!)

Save Inner Beast for when you know you'll get hit, or you know you can get it back up before a big hit and/or you have Infuriate coming up so you can just drop that down and get it back up, whatever floats your boat really. I find WAR to be a lot more enjoyable and dynamic, allowing a multitude of playing styles without any real issue. I also bind Mercy Stroke to every weapon skill (except Steel Cyclone and Inner Beast) similar to how BRDs bind Bloodletter to their Heavy Shot so that whenever Mercy Stroke is up I'll automatically use it, waiting for the right time never worked well for me and felt like a waste so YMMV here.

Vengeance obviously is saved for heavy hitting moments or if you're pulling lots of mobs (same thing really in most cases) and Holmgang is something I've yet to need on any fight but it'd be the “Oh Shit” button which imo has a much better reaction than Hallowed Ground's trollerific delay. It should also be noted that Berserk should be saved until a bit into the fight, that 5 second pacify (bane of my existence, I'll tell you hwhat) can cause a bit of a problem if you need Inner Beast early and/or need to try and keep focus on the mob or perform any other WS related shenanigans.

Of course you can be a dick and put a macro with a delay letting your healers know you'll need leeches/esuna but they honestly have better things to do and even if they time it perfectly you'll generally still have around 2-3 seconds of pacify and will tie them up unnecessarily when they could be doing something more productive than babysitting you because you used Berserk at a bad time. Of course if your healers are fine with pampering you like that and it doesn't hurt the bottom line, completely disregard that previous sentence!

Additional Information

Below you’ll find a few more helpful tricks and tips regarding the tank Jobs, particularly relating to PLD as they are considered the quintessential tank, at least for most players. WAR is also an excellent choice but at the same time you have to look at the benefits WAR has compared to a PLD and ask yourself if the logistics of a WAR are really going to be much less than a PLD when you’re really able to keep Inner Beast at a higher uptime than Rampart, when Vengeance has a higher uptime than Sentinel and when a 25% increase in HP and an increase in 20% healing received is more Effective Hit Points than the 20% damage reduction that a PLD receives. In the face of such hard facts it’s pretty difficult to suggest that a PLD is much better than a WAR.

At the very least they’re dead even and more than likely the WAR is going to be easier to keep alive and generally a better tank in regards to staying alive and keeping enmity as each of their skills deals more damage than a PLD and in turn they generate greater enmity. Additionally they generate better AOE enmity than a PLD, while also having access to Flash. PLD’s inability to have an AOE weapon skill that allows them to push out enmity to a group is a significant problem and while Flash is good it’s just as strong on a WAR. The only real difference between a WAR Flash and a PLD Flash is that a PLD can blind his enemies which reduces the damage they take by a certain but undefined amount. While a WAR wouldn’t have this, all the mitigation in the world means absolutely nothing in the face of not being able to hold hate against your healers and other party members.

Also, keep in mind that some of this information may be out of date or older than whatever the current trend is. Here you’ll see references to the first Binding Coil of Bahamut, wherein you see references to Twintania, ADS and the like. While more turns will be coming out, or have come out by the time this writing is posted, this information is meant to be representative of the time it was written which is when only the first five turns of Coil were released. Which, as I understand is quite early in the game’s life and therefore much is set to change. I however doubt that tanks are going to change much past the recent patch for WAR which turns them from a mediocre to nearly terrible Tank, to an absolute beast in the right hands.

With their capability to heal themselves better than a PLD could (that really seems wrong) and in general be more reactive than proactive they’re in a better place to be able to sustain high amounts of damage and in an even better place to do new content where you don’t know all the ins and outs of a fight. However, before they acquire new gear and their HP is boosted pretty handily, PLD can actually mitigate on or above the same level as the WARs do. The problem seems to be that a PLD doesn’t scale as well with more gear like a WAR does.

  1. I've yet to see a fight that requires 2 tanks outside of the Coil and then the one PLD on “stun duty” is still a waste of a PLD regardless. Any main-tank PLD worth their chops is going to be both solo tanking a boss (like Ifrit HM) and stunning their necessary abilities (like Eruptions). Later on in higher-tier endgame you won't have the ability to have somebody help you out with stunning and not getting that training in early will later require further reconditioning and should be avoided.
  2. Spirits Within is not instant cast. It has a delay in it and if you use it at the last moment it will not go off. It isn't on GCD however but it does have a bit of a lag if you're in the middle of a lengthier animation such as Rage of Halone. Silence doesn't proc until roughly the point when you pull the sword out during the animation and the purple spray/glow effect animates. Blunt Arrow is nearly instant and much faster than Spirits Within and you can compare the two to see what I mean. It's a small thing but it makes a massive difference in clutch moments during end-game.
  3. Most, if not every single boss in existence often resists pacification (really they resist just about everything but the one thing SE wants you to use to get around their mechanics) but it's still useful as all hell on the few that don't. Ifrit for example can have plumes/eruptions stunned by Pacification which can save you if you mess up the order of Plumes→Eruptions and stun a plume instead. Pop Bulwark and hang on that Shield Swipe so you can interrupt eruptions. Of course you can also pacify if you think he'll do it soon to give enough time for stun resist to fall off, both work really.

Just keep in mind that the proc’d shield block doesn’t stay up forever and you have a limited window in which to “hold” the Shield Swipe already primed and so you need to be able to anticipate when it’s going to wear off. Plenty of times Ifrit just won’t attack you as fast as you’d like to be able to proc another Shield Block and therefore you’re stuck without a Shield Bash or a Shield Swipe to stun plumes, and that’s just bad.

It's very much so about learning a mob's behavior, quirks and rotations. It's part of being a good tank to “Know Thine Enemy as Thyself” so to speak. This can be frustrating but it's ultimately rewarding and key to being able to tank both effectively and save the party from disaster. However I can only think of two fights in end-game where stunning a mob's move is dire to success. Ifrit is one of them and that's definitely at the feet of the tank to do. But aside from stunning odd mob TP moves or the like, most end-game bosses are completely immune to stun/pacify/silence unless it's included in a mechanic they want you to use during the fight.

Shield Swipe is useful, but again most Bosses resist it outright and so it has less efficacy on such mobs, but it's really nice/useful as an alternative and low-cost stun to Shield Bash on trash mobs or others that aren't resistant. It all pretty much boils down to knowing the fight inside and out.

Flash however is wickedly useful for survival and I notice a lot of PLDs use it in their rotation rather than skillfully. It lowers accuracy, and as accuracy itself is a stat for both physical/magical you can get a really good shot at completely evading a strong magic attack by flashing just before it's going to go off. A good example is the dragon boss @ AK, Rotten Breath is his most damaging move to a tank and inflicts a nasty disease. If you know it's coming (and he almost always does it after catastrophe, that or the Pew Pew Eye lasers) you can flash and have a good shot at completely evading the damage and disease. Not to mention the string of missed hits that follow.

  • Parry is ~0.076-0.078% per point, no “soft cap” of any sort, no tiering.
  • DEX is tiered just like STR is, the closest tier I could find was 210DEX (couldn't test lower b/c my stats weren't able to drop lower @50 and any testing sub-50 skews results) it seems to follow the same STR setup of ~40-41 points per tier. Next tier is 240-241.
  • DEX tiers are different per Parry and Blocking just as STR has different tiers for Parry and Blocking mitigation, but they're relatively close-by.
  • Each DEX tier like STR gives a flat +1% bonus to Blocking and/or Parry rates: 24.5% block rate becomes 25.5%, 19.22% Parry becomes 20.22%, etc.

That's about the basic rundown at this time. Seeing as I had a massive amount of samples to get to make the data viable (upwards of 16,600+ per test, ~24 tests, often 20-40K per test) I didn't take the time to test Block Rate on shields and only tested w/ a Holy Shield +1 as that's what I had. At some point in the future I may test other block rates to try and nail down how Block Rate affects the total % unless somebody does it before me (which I hope somebody does b/c testing like this sucks and is monumentally boring).

The math dictates that you're trading 362HP for +1% Parry/Shield mitigation (28% / 24% with BiS gear iirc) and +1% Parry/Block rate (26~27% / 19~20%) while gaining additional stats such as DTR, skillspeed and whatever else is melded on after capping PAR and VIT (12/10 respectively). This isn't including the other stats you can meld on, which is too varied as each piece has different stats that one can choose to cap and 'waste' a slot for less effective gains, or eschew capping a stat to get a bigger boost. An example being the rings which have +9 Skillspeed on them, one could choose to cap the remaining 3 but that could be construed as wasteful, which brings us to two other choices: +6DTR or +9Crit. So, as I said, too variable to nail down. Though it wouldn't be too hard to model specific sets against one another I suppose.

Altogether the below illustrates the general loss/gain of BiS Allagan/Hero Vs. i70 HQ:

  • +3-6 Acc (Choker has +9, if melded with +3acc materia you lose crit/sks stat on this, but strengthen the gap to +6Acc in i70's favor)
  • -10 Parry (This equates to roughly ~0.8% Parry Rate loss, which is made up for with the +1% of the 45DEX, favor of ~1.2%+ Parry Rate Vs. Allagan/Hero BiS pieces.
  • +45 STR Making Flash (and general enmity combos) dramatically stronger and boosting +1 Holy Shield / Allagan Shield to 28% Block mitigation and Parry to 24% - Though Enmity management really should not be an issue.
  • +45 DEX Boosting block/parry rates to around ~25% / ~20% - Interesting note, my testing of DEX places the next Tier @ 240-241 meaning with a stat reallocation of a 2-3pts [29-44HP] (differs depending on race) one could hit the next DEX tier pushing 26-27% Block and 20-21% Parry (Keep in mind these are parry values with blocking, resulting in a total mitigation chance of 46~48%. Parry by itself would be approaching 30% but due to the nature of Evade/Block/Parry order it occurs less)

*+14DTR From neck/wrist
Whatever is chosen to be melded in the single slot available, a maximum of +45 Crit (~3.2% Crit Rate) or +45 SKS (Skillspeed) is possible depending on how the individual wishes to weight things.

Food for thought at the very least! With Death Sentence being as brutally high in damage as it is the extra HP could be invaluable, at the same time some additional block/parry and higher mitigation would mean you're more likely to mitigate not only tank-breaking moves but also all the other physical attacks that whittle your HP down, thus giving you better survivability. I haven't calculated this stuff for eHP and I'm sure somebody better with numbers than I could come up with the exact Effective HP values of increasing Block/Parry rate 1-2% and mitigation 1% per, versus the loss of 360~400HP. (Insofar as you could estimate eHP of them, seeing as some people don't factor in “chance” stats, which Parry/Block would fall under).

Edit: This is of course only effective on fights where you have the ability to mitigate, which means you're facing the mob and it's using physical attacks. Magical attacks like ADS and all T5 mobs would place importance on pure VIT and therefore having both a full VIT set and a full mitigation set may behoove the ultimate Min/Maxer player.

Some More Notes

BiS would remove all jewelry and replace it with HQ Gryphonskin w/ Rose Ear Screws melded with 10Vit, 12 Parry and w/e DPS stat you prefer. Ditch the Shield for the Holy Shield +1 (475 acc is good, if you're anal about astronomically small window where a miss might mess you up then keep the Allagan shield for 482acc, not like 7SKS is a major loss).

This nets you +45STR +45DEX, with a BRD in the group it gives you +2% Parry&Block tiers putting you at the highest possible mitigation current attainable. With a Melee in the group it also takes you past the 405STR tier for 25% Parry Mitigation and 28% Shield Block mitigation. Without a Melee you can sacrifice 1Vit allocation for 405STR which nets you the same mitigation tier. That much STR makes a massive impact on Flash and overall damage/enmity (not that enmity should have been difficult or that damage from a PLD is a high priority, but it helps).

Cross Class Abilities to use: Stoneskin Mercy Stroke Bloodbath Foresight Fracture

Cure is nigh useless at endgame for PLD for the time/effort/cost, while SS is still useful at times when you have the freedom to cast it, as it can indeed save your life in the last phase of Twintania where your healers are running from LH and you need that extra damage absorption. Fracture isn't really necessary but there's not much else better to place there and it helps with damage and gives you something to do on PLD besides the normal rotation. Utilizing Shield Swipes whenever possible (same potency as your RoH combo when averaged across the skills, and for less TP) and you'll never run out of TP even when keeping Fracture up.

Edit: I personally wouldn't group up skills but I prefer a fine-grained method of playing where I can trigger skills I specifically need. That being said, pairing Bloodbath & Fight or Flight is a good idea as there's nearly no reason you'd ever want them to be separate. However there are times when you do not want FoF up and having it replacing your starting combo is just an overall bad idea as it'll trigger every 90s regardless of when you may or may not need it. A good example is you'd probably want to save it in T5 for when the mini boss gets 4 stacks on him, using it earlier is a waste of DPS and with DPS easily hitting 2k damage skills you might need that extra boost to enmity if you're struggling. On top of that, 1,500+ Rage of Halones aren't exactly something to thumb your nose at.

Same goes w/ Flash and CoS, CoS reaches a larger range than Flash and sometimes you don't want/need the DoT from CoS right then. Best to keep them separate and use them as you need them instead of forcing CoS to be on its CD all the time regardless of when you need it. Because there is going to be that single time when you’re low on TP, your MP is low or you can’t Flash at that moment and you’ll need or severely want to pull mobs back but you can’t because your Circle of Scorn is down and so you’ve got nothing to leash back that mob that’s making an angry beeline for your Healer who is barely clinging to life. Trust me, it happens more often than you think it might and because of that it’s best to be able to push forward with your job and keep things as separate as you can so you can use them properly. Sometimes it’s best to pair, but this is not one of them.

I've done thorough testing on DEX/Parry/Block @50PLD and agree most data is too small sample size or just full of bad testing that doesn't attribute proper samples/controls/stable testing environments. DEX however is just like STR, as to the tiers being the same, I cannot say for certain as I've not seen a 50 w/ STR so low as DEX is even when heavily pumped.

I personally run 5 HQ Melded accessories with capped Parry/Vit and depending on what gives the most DTR/Crit or SKS attached in the 5th slot. This provides +3Acc over the BiS Allagan/Hero's combination, while affording you a whopping 45STR and 45DEX. You lose 10 Parry which is equivalent to ~0.76% Parry Rate but if you're like most groups and have a BRD and a melee DPS you'll pass 2 Tiers of DEX (+2% for both Block & Parry respectively) it also clears your next tier of mitigation putting you (with BiS gear, I'm missing 3 pieces but I'm still at the tier atm) @ 28% Block Mitigation & 25% Parry Mitigation with a total Block/Parry of ~27% Block Rate & ~21% Parry Rate for a combined mitigation chance of ~48%.

Note: Parry rate on PLD appears lower due to Blocks proc'ing first. If you were to remove the shield the parry rate would be around 30% in this instance.

While not necessary the STR on the rings makes a very noticeable impact on enmity management (where there generally isn't an issue anyways) and DPS. In Turn 5 I clear as main-tank on Twintania (ie always Shield Oath and spending a hefty amount of time not focusing on DPS) Vs. our Off-Tank who also has +1 Curtana and several pieces of allagan. I generally do 40-60% more damage than he does over the course of the fight to all mobs. This is including the fact that I never engage the first 3 sets nor the Hygeia mobs, nor the Dreadknight (though I'd say I am able to sneak in a WS or two on every third on average). We don't switch off so the OT is 90% of the time in Sword Oath. Twintania has a wider gap nearly nearly double damage but that's unfair due to the fact that in the beginning he's on the Scourges and switches to Dreadknight to DPS/Stunlock.

While it's not a lot, the difference is pretty large considering the reduction of damage in Shield Oath. It's not something you'll be posting on the forums or writing home about but every bit helps in my opinion and while you're boosting all your tanking related stats, you're also contributing in other ways which is never a bad thing. Of course you're giving up 362ish HP for this. You'll save more HP over the course of a fight and Vs. anything not Hero's / Allagan the VIT is the same. I personally found that having an extra 400, even 500HP extra didn't make any difference on Twintania. If you get hit hard with Death Sentence and she Plummets/Auto-attacks you'd need well over 1-2k HP more to survive it. You’re better off mitigating more, and more often than having a slight HP cushion that doesn't alter your survival rate on hard-hitting end-game content.

At least, give it a try and see how it works out for you and your group personally. Some Healers prefer more HP even if they have to heal you more for the bigger buffer.

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