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Armoury System - Lancer

Lancer (LNC) as the name suggests, is a spear and polearm wielding DPS Class in FFXIV: ARR. They are considered a strong DPS but are lacking behind MNK and SMN for top spot, and sometimes even beaten out by BRD, this is of course assuming the appropriate use of their Dragoon (DRG) Job rather than a Class vs. Job which would never match up fairly.

LNC and further DRG are more reliant on using off GCD abilities when they’re available an pushing them in between their GCD rotation than any other Job out there. This is because they don’t really take any advantage of Skill Speed and instead focus most of their attention on the stats of Determination and equally so Critical Hit Rate. As DRGs abilities are already fairly strong in terms of potency a Critical Hit increases that damage summarily more than it would for MNK or BRD who have much weaker potencies attached to their main skills. This is because DRG is more built for burst damage, but their overall damage is weakened because of this unfortunately.

A DRG is very capable of putting out a very high amount of damage in a short period of time, except they have trouble keeping up with the likes of SMN and MNK who are able to deal damage consistently and for moderately high damage throughout the whole fight. This is the age old rivalry between Sprinters and Marathoners in a sense. DRG is definitely a Sprinter with two strong buffs that only work for one attack but force a complete Critical Hit on those abilities or skills. Their buffs are relatively strong but DRGs buffs also strengthen BRD which makes them important to BRD’s DPS but at the same time it is sort of shooting themselves in the foot because a DRG already struggles to a degree to output enough damage to be included in a lot of events. So while a DRG can increase BRDs damage and their own through the use of Disembowel, ironically this often puts them behind a BRD in terms of damage because they gave them that much more damage too. And since BRD can perform abilities like Bloodletter back to back without waiting for a GCD, and get full use out of Disembowel’s 11% damage boost, you can begin to see how a BRD could pull ahead of a DRG in such a circumstance.

Though that doesn’t mean that DRG is weak on its own, it is still a strong DPS and as there aren’t really that many DPS in the game in general they’re still used quite extensively. It takes a really good MNK to deal their top DPS and while it takes skill to wield a DRG it’s more about learning their long rotation than anything else. This makes DRG a more beginner friendly Job to take if you’re interested specifically in melee DPS, of which there are only two choices DRG or MNK at this time. That is until NIN and ROG are released in 2.4 which is set to come in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Still, a DRG is useful and a powerful tool to add especially when you consider that the Limit Break nerf is only in affect if you have duplicates of a Job or Class in your party. By doing so you gimp the way the Limit Break gauge increases, making it go much slower and therefore altering some of the well known strategies that revolve around needing to use a Limit Break at a certain time during the battle.

True Thrust

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 1
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 150.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 70 TP
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: There’s not much about this Weapon Skill. It’s the Starter for LNCs and as with pretty much every Starter attack it’s got no interesting attributes at this level - in fact DRG never gets any interesting traits for True Thrust - just like every other Class or Job in the game, with the exception of MNK.

Feint

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 2
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 120. Additional Effect: Slow +20%.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: 10s
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 80 TP
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Feint is useful in and of itself, though it’s TP cost is high and when you initially get it, you only have the option of using True Thrust and Feint together, but you’ll quickly find that using Feint is pretty useless later on and as soon as you get Vorpal Thrust at Level 4 you’ll pretty much drop Feint completely. Not only is Feint not particularly useful in any scenario, but it’s also less effective due to its 80 TP cost compared to Vorpal Thrust’s 60 TP, and it’s bonus of 80 Potency over Feint.

That isn’t to stay Feint is completely useless, but it’s not really useful in endgame or even in low man situations. While there may be places it could be useful, when Feint is boosted to extend its slow duration, but due to the way diminishing returns work in FFXIV: ARR and the general speed of solo and low man, it’d be unnecessary to feel the need to use it. Especially when you could simply continue to deal higher damage, making it more plausible to kill the mob faster and give a better boon than making the mob auto attack a little bit slower.

Vorpal Thrust

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 4
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 100.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 60 TP
  • Combo Bonus: [True Thrust → Vorpal Thrust] 200 Potency.
  • Notes: Finally we get to the first of the main combos, Vorpal Thrust isn’t particularly noteworthy aside from its 200 combo potency enhancement, making it an obvious use. Aside from that, there’s nothing special about this ability. A lot of LNC and DRG is actually quite like that. They are what you might consider a more typical type of DPS, focused on damage and less about gimmicks and the sort of mechanics that would be difficult to conquer, though they do have their own specific quirks, it’s nothing compared to Jobs like MNK or BLM as most of DRGs abilities are simply straightforward damage without any specific caveats aside from positional requirements for the Rear Combo attacks.

Keen Flurry

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 6
  • Description: Increases parry rate by 40%.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: 20s
  • Recast Time: 90s (1 Minute, 30 Seconds)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: As a DRG you shouldn’t be tanking, and Parry in itself at endgame is only about 25% mitigation, making this roughly equivalent to a 10% reduction in physical damage by way of additional parries. It’s not useless entirely, but odds are you’re not going to really need it as solo and low man situations are so easy and simplistic that they don’t require much thought placed into them. Keep it around if you feel you might want the protection later, but you will not need it and when you get to higher tiers, you shouldn’t have anything attacking you that would proc a Parry. Though, if you do for whatever reason, it would be useful to have Keen Flurry available especially once it’s improved to 80% rate, giving you a decent mitigation provided you don’t turn around and try running away, which would cause no parry to proc and therefore render Keen Flurry useless. Remember to face the mob in a 90 degree arc in front of your character so that it’s able to parry. In situations like the above it can save your life, but most of the time you won’t be in a situation (or we should say, you should not be in that situation) in the first place if you have a decent party.

Enhanced Strength

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 8
  • Description: Increases Strength by 2.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Nothing special here, just adding 2 points of STR, every little bit helps.

Impulse Drive

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 8
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 100. 180 Potency when delivered from behind target.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 70 TP
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Impulse Drive is one of the abilities that starts your Rear Combo and deals significantly more (+80%) damage when inflicted from behind, giving it more overall potency and more Potency per Timeframe than your current 1, 2 combo of True Thrust → Vorpal Thrust. When you add them together you get an averaged potency of 175 for True Thrust → Vorpal Thrust, and it takes an average of 5 seconds to perform that, giving it a DPS of 35. Whereas Impulse Drive is 180 Potency when from behind, and takes only 2.5 seconds to perform, giving it a DPS of 72. So, as you can see at this stage in the game Impulse Drive is dramatically stronger than anything else you have access to. Except the problem is that you likely won’t be in a party of any kind and so you won’t be able to take advantage of its unique strengths.

If you are capable of taking advantage however, you’ll easily be doing some of the highest damage in the game at this stage in the game because as of now almost every Job and Class is significantly weaker than it gets later and due to DRGs straightforward damage metrics, it pulls ahead early but begins to lag behind as other Jobs get more intricate and masterful skills to use and DRG is left with the same straightforward abilities, and unfortunately gains an incredibly long and unruly combo order rotation that involves well over fifteen unique combination of abilities and weapon skills chained together to monopolize on DPS and damage as much as possible.

Leg Sweep

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 10
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 130. Additional Effect: Stun
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate)
  • Duration: 3s
  • Recast Time: 30s
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Useful as a stun, more useful as an off GCD ability to increase DPS. Of course at this stage in the game it’s incredibly useful to use Leg Sweep to Impulse Drive, giving you the capacity to slip behind a soloable mob and use Impulse Drive to give you a sharp damage spike. In and of itself though, it’s a good use of a back up stunner, though very few people will use a DRG or any DPS besides BRD’s Blunt Arrow for any sort of stunning or silencing, this is largely because most DPS use these abilities as free bursts of damage and never really have it off cool down to be used.

As always, talk with your party and organize who is to be the stunner and who is a back up in case something happens.

Heavy Thrust

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 12
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 100. 170 when delivered from a target's flank. Flank Bonus: Increases damage dealt by 15%.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: 12s
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 70 TP
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Heavy Thrust increases the damage a DRG does by 15%, which was relatively recently increased to be stronger from its base of 10%. However, it requires the attack be executed from the side of the mob, any action done anywhere else will not inflict the debuff, and it will not trigger the combo either, which admittedly isn’t quite as important as Ring of Thorns isn’t particularly strong even with buffed with the combo and should only be used in certain situations where you’re already using Heavy Thrust to overwrite your damage buff.

Unlike MNK for example, this is the only Flank attack that DRG has, their main combo, True Thrust → Vorpal Thrust → Full Thrust can be executed from any position, while their Rear combo: Impulse Drive → Disembowel → Chaos Thrust is Rear intended, except it’s not entirely so. Only Impulse Drive is from behind, once that’s done you can move wherever you like. Which means DRG only really has two abilities that require position, except unlike MNK where if you execute from the wrong position, you’ll only weaken your damage but continue to chain your combo, DRG doesn’t execute any combo from the wrong side.

So if you use Impulse Drive from behind and the mob turns (very common) and you aren’t behind when the server checks your position relative to your client at the time it receives your packet, you will deal only 100 Potency instead of 180 and you won’t be able to use Disembowel as it won’t trigger a combo. The same is true for Heavy Thrust which allows you to increase your damage by 15%. This makes DRG a bit trickier to play as it flat out demands you’re in the right position in order for you to get it right. Whereas MNK or any other Job can deal their combos continually, DRG won’t get theirs started because of a simple thing like the mob twisting or turning at the wrong moment which is something they can’t honestly control.

Due to this DRG is often considered far more annoying to play as it requires you to be in position, a single simple mistake on MNK like doing Demolish from the flank or Snap Punch from behind will still get you Greased Lightning and doing Dragon Kick from behind will still apply the debuff and give you access to either Twin Snakes or True Strike. DRG doesn’t require the entire process to be from a specific direction at least, but it does make it so that you have to be incredibly cognizant of your position and the mob’s as well to make sure you don’t have to redo your ability. This is what makes DRG weaker in some instances because the mobs move so frequently and twist and turn so much that you’re basically going to have to redo Impulse Drive or Heavy Thrust at least once or twice through the fight, whereas most other DPS will be able to keep their combo going, you’ll have to redo the first ability which not only wastes TP but significantly lowers your DPS.

Because if you for example mess up Impulse Drive, you’ll deal 100 Potency for 70 TP, but then you’ll need to redo it, which is a net loss of 140 TP for 280 potency over 5 seconds which results in a total DPS of 56, versus using Impulse Drive to Disembowel which would be 76 DPS for 130 TP. As you can see this issue can quickly add up, especially when you miss your Heavy Thrust, because it doesn’t chain and it doesn’t give you the buff which makes it that much more painful.

Initially, Heavy Thrust is only active for 12 seconds, a relatively short time that feels like a MNK buff, but later on you gain access to Heavier Thrust which extends the duration to 20 seconds, making it much better for you to be able to continue your combos without worry about damaging your DPS by having to constantly reapply Heavy Thrust. While it’s not as great as if it were 25 or 30 seconds, it’s still a very large increase in duration and though DRG doesn’t have a very fast GCD by normal standards, it still allows for several more attacks to be placed before Heavy Thrust begins to run out.

One of the best things about Heavy Thrust is that it’s a stand alone ability, and in normal circumstances you’ll never use the Ring of Thorns chain combo that it triggers which means you’re able to quickly get back to doing your Rear or Main combo and increasing your damage. However, it’d be a lot better from an objective viewpoint if it were similar to MNK. Impulse Drive itself should be either replaced or simply have the same ability as Heavy Thrust, giving it a similar effect to Dragon Kick as a starter that gives a boost to damage albeit in the opposite way. In doing so you don’t have to constantly move from side to flank as you need to deal out Heavy Thrust and Impulse Drive. This way you’d be able to have two main combos, and essentially be able to be behind the entire time as the Main combo can be executed from any position. This simple and single alteration would greatly change DRG for the best, but SE seems content to keep things the way they are, going so far as to ignore that there’s even an issue with DRG not parsing up in terms of DPS and overall damage as others.

Still, just like Dragon Kick or Twin Snakes, Heavy Thrust should be used in the same way. Giving priority to using other, stronger abilities while under its effects instead of overwriting the damage buff entirely without it ever wearing out. Of course if you can’t do that properly due to your GCD or where you are in your combo versus what damage you’d lose, then it’s best to overwrite before it wears out. A good example is if you’ve got 8 seconds left on your Heavy Thrust buff, and you’re starting your Main Combo, you could redo Heavy thrust to make sure the buff stays active, or you could execute your Main Combo, which would have your buff wear off shortly after using Full Thrust, and then you’d be able to execute Heavy Thrust without the buff, but it’d allow you to expend that buff on your main combo that you’d otherwise delay by using Heavy Thrust again. Always remember to try and keep the longest possible time between buffs and remember that it’s best to use the buff on another, stronger ability rather than keeping the buff up 100%, as almost any other attack is stronger than Heavy Thrust and will thus make greater use of its buff.

Enhanced Feint

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 14
  • Description: Extends Slow duration inflicted by Feint to 20 seconds.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: 20s
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: This simply makes a relatively useless ability slightly less useless. As mentioned under Feint, there’s not a whole lot of demand for this, partly because of its relatively mediocre use and partly because the diminishing returns in FFXIV: ARR on buffs makes it not particularly viable. Either way, extending the duration helps it to last a little longer than thirty seconds if it’s constantly applied, which is going to be a hard request to get any DRG to accept as Feint is incredibly weak in terms of potency and it’s very TP heavy as well. For about 35 seconds of 20% slow, a DRG will expend 240 TP and deal significantly less damage as those three attacks will make up the usual three attacks from a combo. Still, any boost is one that should be welcomed, even if it’s scarcely ever used.

Piercing Talon

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 15
  • Description: Delivers a ranged attack with a potency of 120.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Varies, based on distance animated lance has to travel in order to connect with target, the shorter distance the quicker the effect and vice versa)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 130 TP
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Like most ranged abilities this takes time to connect based on distance. In this, you can completely rely upon the animation to tell you when it connects as you can see the thrown spear sail through the air. That said, there’s not much use to this skill either, as a DRG you’ll have Dragonfire Dive and Spineshatter Dive to close the gap just as well as Shoulder Tackle does from MNK except you’ll deal a great deal more damage, but at the loss of some mobility as you’re slightly animation locked following either. Jump works to deal immediate damage but it doesn’t close the gap and in fact delays your arrival. This largely makes Piercing Talon useless unless you want to stay out of range, but that also doesn’t make much sense because its damage is significantly weaker than any other ability DRG has access to and there’s no good reason to stay out of range and expend nearly double the TP for nearly half the damage of most other Weapon Skills or Abilities.

Once you get access to DRG and their various jumps, you pretty much stop using Piercing Talon entirely because it’s so weak and useless compared. On its own however it’s pretty good and is helpful at lower levels when you don’t have to worry quite so much about the TP run down you’re executing, or about doing the most damage that you can possibly do however. So use it, but be ready to drop it when you get access to better abilities that provide you with greater utility and flexibility compared to lobbing a weak ranged attack.

Enhanced Strength II

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 16
  • Description: Increases Strength by 4.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: The second tier of this trait, any STR is good.

Life Surge

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 18
  • Description: Ensures critical damage for first non-magic action used while Life Surge is active. Damage dealt will be absorbed as HP, up to 10% of maximum HP.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate)
  • Duration: 10s
  • Recast Time: 90s (1 Minute, 30 Seconds)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Life Surge is somewhat similar to Thief’s Sneak Attack from FFXI in that it causes a guaranteed critical hit on the next attack. The obvious choice is to use this on Full Thrust, as there’s literally no better ability to use it on. Full Thrust is the strongest ability that DRG has access to at 330 Potency, and forcing a critical hit on it gives it an equivalent potency of 495 making it incredibly strong, particularly when you have both Disembowel and Heavy Thrust active, as well as Blood for Blood which gives you a huge boost to damage and allows DRG to push out some of the best damage in a spike in the game. Except, unfortunately it doesn’t deal anywhere near the damage that a MNK equally geared will put out, this is partly due to the way the two Jobs work but also because of the slight mechanical glitches that DRG suffers from.

That being said, Life Surge should be used on Full Thrust if you can, otherwise it can be stacked with Power Surge and Jump to have the second highest damage possible compared to DRG’s arsenal. This is less ideal but it allows for a quick off GCD attack that you can weave in between others, because you can use Power Surge and a Weapon Skill without triggering it, and then as soon as you do you can use Life Surge and Jump together before the GCD comes back up again, giving you a high powered Jump and then immediately allowing you to roll back into your combo without missing a beat.

In fact, a lot of DRG is about the above, weaving in as much off GCD Jumps as you can while continuing your combo without ever having to wait for an ability animation or Jump to execute before you’re able to continue on. It’s a fanciful juggling game that DRG has to play, far more than other Jobs because they don’t have as good a rotation as say MNK has because they have to continually deal with their off GCD abilities getting in the way of their combos as the animations can and will interfere if you don’t time them properly.

That being said, Life Surge should be used on one of three skills and none other. Firstly, Full Thrust is the best to use it on as it’s got the highest potency even when you factor in Power Surge stacking with Jump at 330 Potency versus a Power Surge Jump’s 300 Potency. Of course, in that same vein a Power Surge Jump is only 10% weaker than Full Thrust and thus is the second best choice for using Life Surge on. Lastly, Dragonfire Dive is the next choice because it’s the third strongest attack that DRG has, though it’s only 250 Potency it’s still far more than any other skill. If you had to choose from there, it would be Disembowel and then either Chaos Thrust or Vorpal Thrust as each are equivalent to the other in damage potency. Though, it’d be highly ill advised to use Life Surge on them, and better to wait just a few seconds in order to use it on a much more potent skill. As you’ll see in the rotations section below, a lot of DRG is about lining up buffs with the strongest string of combos and is, essentially all about timing, more than any other Job currently in the game. So if you’ve got a good sense of timing and when it’s best to execute certain actions and pairing them with others, then you’ll go very far on DRG.

Keener Flurry

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 20
  • Description: Improves Keen Flurry parry rate increase to 80%.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: The aforementioned upgrade to Keen Flurry which doubles its parry rate from 40% to 80% giving it an effective doubling of mitigation, from 10% physical damage to 20% for its duration on average. Of course the ability still isn’t that great because it depends entirely on a RNG system to get enough procs. This means that from one use to the next you can get wildly different results. One time you can Parry almost every single attack levied your way, and the inverse can also be true where you rarely parry anything at all, and then eventually the probability will even itself out, but with the RNG system in FFXIV: ARR being as unsound as it is, it leads to extreme and unlikely streaks that any decent RNG system would work to prevent.

Because of this, you’re very likely to see two extremes from one proc set to the next and that’s why RNG type systems in FFXIV: ARR aren’t really something to rely upon. One time you can parry a great deal, making it very useful and helpful, and on the other hand you can potentially fail catastrophically and barely parry anything at all, causing you to take excessive amounts of damage, and there’s nothing that you can do about it.

Invigorate

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 22
  • Description: Instantly restores 400 TP.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: 120s (2 Minutes)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: One of the best abilities in the game for physical DPS, providing yourself with an instant 40% recovery of your TP is an astounding ability. Of course it’s even better when Exhilarate becomes active and gives you an additional 100 TP, for a total of 500 TP restored every 2 minutes. That’s the equivalent of having 4.1 TP returned every second if you use Invigorate on cooldown, which as a DRG with their heavy TP costing skills, will more than likely be using it every 2 minutes. Due to its high utility it’s greatly coveted by other Jobs that can use it too, MNK in particular makes great use of it, perhaps even more extremely than DRG does.

For highest utility it’s best to keep Invigorate on cool down unless you’re entirely sure that it’s going to be needed and you can’t have the recast exhausted or mostly so by that time. Which means, more than likely that you aren’t pacing the battle very well. Using as much TP as you can in the beginning with wantonness allows you to use Invigorate early on before you end up needing it. You’ll then be capable of having the cool down off by the time you need it for a DPS burst, and in doing so you’ll have recovered more overall TP during the entire fight, and have expended extra damage because you aren’t concerned about the TP costs. As with MNK, the use of Fracture is largely taken out because of its high TP cost and its need to be as lean as possible in TP consumption. However DRG already uses a great deal of TP but their benefit is that unlike MNK they are much slower in terms of their use of skills and their GCD is much closer to 2.5 seconds than MNKs 2 seconds. It’s this incredible difference that actually makes Invigorate more useful for DRG in certain situations.

By using as much TP as possible early on before any sort of DPS check comes up, you not only deal more damage and thus shorten that leg of the fight, but you help to make it possible to restore even more TP than you naturally would if you held Invigorate until you needed it. Because inevitably you’re going to be using that TP anyways, and keeping your TP bar closer to full as much as possible is going to make your task a lot easier, especially if like in Turn 8 of the Binding Coil of Bahamut you actually have a long bout where you’re constantly attacking and barely taking a break to do anything else, thus enabling your passive TP regeneration to catch up to the amount you’re spending.

In those cases your best bet is to keep Invigorate on cool down as much as possible, thereby keeping your TP as close to 100% as possible throughout the entire fight. By making it so that you never actually have to worry about when to use Invigorate and keeping your TP as high as possible, you’ll be able to keep yourself from bottoming out and eventually running out of TP to the point that you can’t use any Weapon Skill whatsoever. Of course a DRG would have an alternative recourse of being able to use their Jumps and various off GCD abilities, but they wouldn’t make that great of a difference enough to allow your TP to recover to the point of usability again. As with any other Job however, DRG still needs to pace themselves properly to prevent themselves from burning out, and obviously it’s best to make sure that they can use the full effect of the ability. Using Invigorate when you’ve only used 200 TP is quite a foolish thing to do, especially when just a few combos later you can turn that 200 TP into 500 TP loss or greater, making entire use of Invigorate. It’s a good idea to make sure that you’re a little below 500 TP left when you use Invigorate, because your passive TP regeneration may tick up and then you’ll cut off some of the regenerative nature of Invigorate and that amounts to nothing short of wasted TP that you could have used and then recovered more fully.

Enhanced Strength III

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 24
  • Description: Increases Strength by 6.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: The last trait, a total of 6 Strength gets added to your stats, nothing major but not exactly minor either when you consider the relatively small boosts in damage that STR gives, and how much one major Item Level set to the next gives.

Full Thrust

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 26
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 100.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 60 TP
  • Combo Bonus: [True Thrust → Vorpal Thrust → Full Thrust] 330 Potency.
  • Notes: Finally, we arrive at the strongest melee skill in the entire game (so far at least). Full Thrust while in a combo is a whopping 330 Potency, far and away stronger than every other skill that melee use. This is why it makes such a good pairing for Life Surge, as it effectively adds a 50% equivalent potency from the forced Critical Hit (+50% Damage) giving it a true Potency of 495, which allows DRGs to hit a surprisingly high damage burst in a short period of time. Of course they cannot keep it up because Life Surge’s recast is fairly long, but it can make a very big difference when you’re pushing a DPS phase.

Making sure that Full Thrust is as fully buffed as possible when Life Surge isn’t up is one of the main tenants of DRG’s play style. It’s always best to ensure that all buffs possible are up when Full Thrust goes off because of its massive potency which can make obscene damage numbers occur and DPS phases melt away like nothing. Of course if you don’t save your stronger abilities like Blood for Blood and the like, then you’ll end up being quite at a disadvantage because Full Thrust isn’t achieving its full strength.

Enhanced Leg Sweep

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 28
  • Description: Shortens Leg Sweep cool down to 20 seconds.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: A faster Leg Sweep allows it to be used more frequently as a back up stun, but it also helps to give you the opportunity to use it as a generic off GCD attack to boost your damage or to be used for push / DPS race phases so you can squeeze out a little more damage and meet the checks.

Phlebotomize

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 30
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 170. Additional Effect: Damage over time with potency of 25.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: 18s
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 90 TP
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: A surprisingly potent skill, with a relatively minor DOT with a total damage potency equivalence at 320 on average. Phlebotomize benefits greatly from Heavy Thrust and Blood for Blood being up, as it increases your DOT damage as much as the bonus allows.

Phlebotomize and Chaos Thrust are DRGs two natural DOTs, giving them the ability to deal great amounts of damage through the use of them. As with usual DOTs it’s best to keep them going constantly due to the way that DOTs work in FFXIV: ARR, for more information refer here: FFXIV Damage Over Time System which should help explain how FFXIV: ARR functions in so far as being able to assess when DOT damage is going to tick. After reading the above, you should understand why it’s best to keep your DOTs constantly applied, even if you have to clip a single DOT tick at worst. Of course, there are scenarios where you’ll need to be able to clip it sooner because the alternative is to leave the DOT unapplied for several ticks, if possible always make sure that the DOTs are applied for as many potential ticks as possible.

What this means is, if you’ll clip the DOT by 2 ticks, but if you don’t clip it it’ll be down for 3 ticks, then always take the lesser reduction in ticks, thereby assuring that your DOT is up as much as possible, even if you have to let it either overwrite early (clipping) or have the DOT fall off for a tick so that you can get it up again rather than cutting it off extremely early.

Enhanced Life Surge

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 32
  • Description: Shortens Life Surge cool down to 60 seconds.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: This makes Life Surge dramatically more powerful, letting it be used every minute is a great boost to damage considering it’s essentially a 50% burst to any given Weapon Skill, which is further augmented by having Blood for Blood active, with its augmented form later that provides a 30% boost to damage. Life Surge, as mentioned before should always be stacked with either (in descending order): Full Thrust, Power Surge Jump, or Disembowel. The difference between a Full Thrust and Power Surge Jump is relatively minor (10%, 30 Potency) and sometimes it might be best to use it on Jump so that you can deal that high damage from far away, if for example you can’t get close enough, or cannot bridge the gap quickly for a DPS push or something of the sort. Or if you’re nowhere near being able to use Full Thrust and your DPS check is running close to failing and you don’t know if you’ll have the time to use a Life Surged Full Thrust, in those situations its best to use a second best alternative rather than the best, simply because it affords you with not only more options (and thus more flexibility) but can potentially be a better solution if you’re low on time as a Life Surge coupled with a Power Surged Jump is incredibly potent and can be done off GCD between your normal rotation as it comes, giving you access to using the strong ability combination without having to pause for animations or GCD.

Blood for Blood

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 34
  • Description: Increases damage dealt by 10% and damage suffered by 25%.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate)
  • Duration: 18s
  • Recast Time: 80s (1 Minute, 20 Seconds)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Blood for Blood at its Level 34 iteration is weak and almost useless, as its negative side effect is far stronger than the boost it gives. This was done primarily because other Jobs were able to use the ability and got far more mileage out of it than DRG did, so SE’s solution was to weaken the main skill and instead improve it through a trait later on. In this case, Enhanced Blood for Blood which gives an absolutely massive boost to damage by 30% for 18 seconds. Coupled with DRGs other damage buffs this gives them a total burst for a single ability by +82.97% damage, by far the most damage possible currently in the game it seems. This would give Full Thrust an augmented potency of 603.8 when fully buffed, these buffs include a fully enhanced Blood for Blood (+30% damage), Disembowel (+11% damage), Heavy Thrust (+15% damage), and Life Surge (+50% damage via Critical Hit).

As you can see, Blood for Blood allows an incredible amount of damage to be dished out in a short period of time. On average a DRG will be able to get off 7 to 8 abilities and weapon skills off in the time period that Blood for Blood is active. At the same time, Blood for Blood is a little less unfair to DRG as the boost to damage outweighs the 25% increase in damage taken. Except, a lot of DRGs are unfortunately unaware of their position most of the time and often are hit by AOEs or otherwise damaged while under the effects of Blood for Blood which causes a lot of unnecessary strain for the Healers. And while it is nice to deal as much damage as Blood for Blood allows, it must be reminded that a dead DPS cannot deal any damage and is far weaker than even a below mediocre DPS, because they take precious time and MP away from Healers, forcing them to heal them and to eventually raise them which takes a lot of time and MP as well.

But, as you might expect, DRGs are far more addicted to the boost of Blood for Blood, largely in part because it’s such a huge burst to their damage that they often feel it’s worth the risk and oftentimes the resulting damage that they incur in order to deal more damage in turn. Except in order for that to be true, you have to be *more* mindful of your surroundings and what you’re doing in relation to the phase and the boss at the time. A single hit that may have left you in critical HP would surely kill you in one shot, making things like Garuda’s Downburst and other AOE attacks instantly kill you instead of leaving you at low, but survivable HP.

While Blood for Blood allows DRGs to deal a great amount more damage, it also makes them considerably weaker, and already they are not a Job well known for their survivability. They have access to Second Wind, but that’s all that they truly have in terms of HP recovery that’s reliable, and unfortunately it’s not very strong, and furthermore it’s only active after the fact. So if an attack would leave you with 200 HP, but instead kills you outright as it would with Blood for Blood active, Second Wind becomes completely useless. In the face of such knowledge it should be common practice to hover your mouse over the Blood for Blood icon to be able to click it off if you think you’re not going to be able to dodge, or just to be safe when a phase changes and you end up going into an AOE heavy part of the fight. Your Healers and your party will thank you for it.

Exhilirate

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 36
  • Description: Increases TP restored by Invigorate to 500.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: This boost adds another 10% TP recovery for a total of half your TP in a single shot every two minutes. As mentioned before this is similar to about 4 TP a second recovered, which is simply incredible. As with Blood for Blood, this buff paired with Blood for Blood makes you the envy of the DPS Jobs. They all want your abilities but cannot have them, not at the strength that a DRG possesses and that turns quite a lot of people green with envy. Use them well and show that you know how to get the full use out of your native abilities.

Disembowel

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 38
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 100.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate)
  • Duration: 20s
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 60 TP
  • Combo Bonus: [Impulse Drive → Disembowel] 220 Potency. Reduces target’s piercing resistance by 10%.
  • Notes: Disembowel is one of those abilities that requires it to be executed from the Flank in order to get the excellent debuff, a 10% reduction of resistance to Piercing, which includes both BRD damage and DRG damage alike, making it even more effective as BRD has nothing to increase their damage through that means. Because of the way the percentages work it’s effectively an increase of 11% damage for not just DRG, but BRDs as well. Increasing their damage effectively by 11% too can make this ability and a DRG in general far more beneficial than any other DPS as it provides an overall total boost to the amount of DPS your entire party is capable of doing, not just a specific Job.

Because it’s so vital and because it is part of the Chaos Thrust combo you’ll keep Disembowel’s debuff up constantly, potentially only letting it drop like with Twin Snakes and Dragon Kick from MNK. Which is, just long enough to be able to have all your abilities and weapon skills affected by them, but then to have them wear off just as you’re about to reapply them, as those skills are often the weakest of all and won’t benefit as greatly from the increased damage output.

However, this often causes a bit of an issue because its duration is much shorter than Chaos Thrust’s DOT at first, but with the trait that enhances it, the duration extends to 30 seconds in order to line up perfectly with Chaos Thrust, meaning you won’t need to use Disembowel any more often than you would Chaos Thrust. But until that point you might need to watch your DOT rotation and adjust it until you get to Level 50 because the two will be off by ten seconds. This is fixed later and won’t be much of an issue as both will be gifted with a duration of 30 seconds, making them both relatively long lasting and giving them the capacity to be used less than the main combo, which is what you honestly want to do as much as possible with a few Heavy Thrusts and Phlebotomize mixed in for good measure, as neither is part of a usable combo and both give a good boost do damage. Heavy Thrust being absolutely crucial as it increases your DOT damage while Disembowel only increase your initial potency damage but not the DOT itself.

Heavier Thrust

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 40
  • Description: Extends Heavy Thrust duration to 20 seconds.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Heavy Thrust is in great need of this boost, giving it an additional 8 seconds is an increase of 66% though of course it’d be much better if it were 30 seconds in order to line it up properly with Chaos Thrust and Disembowel, requiring less frequent use of Heavy Thrust to keep up the 15% damage buff. At least it isn’t part of a combo that needs to be finished, though it seems like it’d be an ideal replacement for Impulse Drive and would give DRG a much better flow than its current disjointed and long winded approach to a rotation, which includes something like 30 plus unique combinations of attacks in order to pull as much potency from their arsenal.

Doom Spike

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 42
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 160 to all enemies in a straight line in front of you.
  • Casting Time: Animation (High Moderate)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 160 TP
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Doom Spike is DRGs primary AOE skill, and it requires a bit more finesse to use and skill to recognize when and where it should be used to greatest extent. While Ring of Thorns is easier to hit multiple enemies, it’s significantly weaker, especially when you realize that it cannot always be part of a combo without severely weakening its overall AOE efficiency.

Doom Spike however deals a constant 160 potency to all enemies in a straight line, and even the animation shows where mobs will be hit, making it relatively easy for you to deal with and after a little use you’ll quickly be able to tell where you’ll hit a mob and when one will be out of range for you to hit with the skill. Aside from AOE use and mobbing however, Doom Spike is pretty much useless, like most AOE skills are honestly. The saving grace is that Doom Spike is relatively long in terms of its effective range, making it useful for fights where the mobs are fairly far away from each other, like in the Garuda Extreme fight where the plumes come down and attack the pillars. Here you can easily line yourself up to be able to hit multiple of them even though they’re at different pillars and are relatively far away compared to your usual grouping of mobs for an AOE spam.

Enhanced Blood for Blood

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 44
  • Description: Improves Blood for Blood damage increase to 30%.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: As mentioned back in Blood for Blood the difference between this and your native Blood for Blood is a whopping 20%, and this is the singular strongest damage boost ability in the game so far, allowing 18 seconds of unadulterated damage to flow from your hands to the wounds of your enemies.

Ring of Thorns

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 46
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 100 to all nearby enemies.
  • Casting Time: Animation (High Moderate)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 120 TP
  • Combo Bonus: [Heavy Thrust → Ring of Thorns] 150 Potency.
  • Notes: A useful skill when you can’t use Doom Spike properly, though in any instance that you can, you should use that instead. The only caveat is when you’re in a group doing an AOE spam and you need to reapply Heavy Thrust, you should always chain into Ring of Thorns for its increased potency, which is just shy of Doom Spike’s 160 by 10 potency. Though the use and utility of Ring of Thorns should end there. For every four mobs that you hit, Doom Spike can hit only three and still deal 80 potency more damage than what you were capable of delivering. Of course it can be somewhat tricky to line up straight shots, it shouldn’t be impossible and the benefit is that you’re expending less overall TP with Doom Spike and dealing more damage in a shorter period of time. This allows you to quickly dispatch of your mobs and keep the speed of your run up without lagging behind simply because you’re a melee which is a constant belief among players nowadays.

The general rule of thumb is to only use Ring of Thorns when you’ve just used Heavy Thrust and when you can hit at least two more mobs with Ring of Thorns compared to Doom Spike, as it will on average require two additional mobs to equal the damage potential of Doom Spike.

Exenterate

  • Type: Trait
  • Level Acquired: Level 48
  • Description: Extends Disembowel duration to 30 seconds.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: N/A
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: As mentioned back in Disembowel, Exenterate gives you the same duration as Chaos Thrust’s DOT, making them equivalent and therefore not requiring you to consistently use Disembowel at a disproportionate rate to Chaos Thrust, and because you’ve already done 2 out of 3 steps in the combo you’d be foolish not to do Chaos Thrust as well which would clip the DOT by at least 10 seconds if not more. Now with this ability you don’t need to worry about that happening.

Chaos Thrust

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 50
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 100.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Long)
  • Duration: 30s
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 60 TP
  • Combo Bonus: [Impulse Thrust → Disembowel → Chaos Thrust] 200 Potency. Damage over time with potency of 30.
  • Notes: Chaos Thrust is probably one of the highest damaging abilities that any Job has, it is of course the strongest one that DRG has, though unfortunately it is not greatly affected by Life Surge, making it largely unable to take advantage of the powerful burst. The initial hit is quite strong at 200 Potency but the 30 seconds of 30 potency DOT makes it truly shine for an equivalent overall potency of 500. Of course as Life Surge doesn’t affect the DOT portion, and neither does Disembowel’s debuff, the ability to boost the damage in any meaningful way falls to the use of Internal Release, Heavy Thrust and Blood for Blood, while powerful do not make it more potent than using all of those and Life Surge together with Full Thrust.

As with other DOTs, Chaos Thrust should be kept up at all times, and since it lines up perfectly with the Piercing Debuff from Disembowel it should be easy to keep them all active all the time, or at least very close to 100% uptime, whichever provides the greater whole of total ticks during your rotation.

If we were to compare the two using Life Surge and not, we’d find that Chaos Thrust turns into a total of 600 Potency versus 495 of Full Thrust, and while it may seem like Chaos Thrust is the best choice here, it’s only gaining 100 Potency while Full Thrust is gaining 165 Potency, and thus is a much better candidate. It’s also useful to mention that Blood for Blood, Internal Release and Life Surge should be used just before Full Thrust is used, giving it access to the strongest buffs but at the same time making sure that Blood for Blood and Internal Release are active to immediately chain into the Rear Combo and eventually be used on Chaos Thrust. At a GCD of 2.5 seconds it would take around 10 or so seconds to go from Full Thrust over to Chaos Thrust, it might even be possible to pull it back a little and start the full combo with it, minus the first True Thrust to give the greatest increase to overall damage and still making sure that Chaos Thrust benefits from both Internal Release and Blood for Blood.

This is because all DOTs take a “snapshot” of your stats and effects when they’re applied, and so if for example you have Blood for Blood active, every DOT will tick with an additional 30% strength, the same goes with Internal Release, if you have it active each DOT tick will have an additional 10% to become a critical hit and that increases your overall damage because of it.

Dragoon

High Flying Jumps

i.imgur.com_te2erls.jpg

DRG is best known for its Jumps in both Final Fantasy lore as a whole and indeed in FFXIV: ARR, because almost every single Job skill earned is a Jump of some sort. In total DRG gets 4 out of 5 of their Job skills as jumps. The above is a good example of what a common Jump looks like mid-air, another good example of an iconic Jump from DRG is their Dragonfire Dive, which is a strong AOE skill that centers on the opponent and those around it dealing 250 potency. Unfortunately Power Surge cannot be used to increase its strength (which is a shame I think) but it still remains one of the strongest jumps unless you include a Power Surge version of either Spineshatter Dive or Jump.

The main benefit of jumps is the ability to deal high off GCD damage, not to mention they just look incredibly nice and are very flashy, take a look at this Dragonfire Dive image and tell me you wouldn’t appreciate being able to do that every few minutes:

i.imgur.com_xj9iiyb.jpg

That aside, jumps and planning around them is what’s going to take up 90% of your rotation, as they’re off GCD you can only fit in so many before they begin to impede upon your GCD skills and that’s something you never want. With the longer animations of Jumps in general over most skills it’s going to be usually one per off GCD period. As such if you had all jumps available and didn’t have anything to particularly boost them for the time being, you would weave them in between your combo, whatever that was at the time. So you’d do for example True Thrust → Jump → Vorpal Thrust → Spineshatter Dive → Full Thrust → Dragonfire Dive, and so on. Generally you save Elusive Jump for when your Enmity is higher than it should be or you want to get away quickly, provided you have fast enough latency. If you don’t, then often times Elusive Jump will get you hurt just as you normally would if you didn’t move fast enough due to the way FFXIV: ARR deals with server vs. client ping. Either way it’s not a terrible way to remove yourself from danger and at the same time halve your current Enmity. Seeing as Elusive Jump deals no damage however it should be kept exclusively for that, alternatively if you don’t have Spineshatter Dive available you can use Elusive Jump as a gap closer.

To do this you need to turn about face 180 degrees from your intended target, so that you’re facing away from them. Once your back is turned to them you can use Elusive Jump if you don’t have Spineshatter Dive or Dragonfire Dive, both of which are better /easier to use gap closers. If, however you cannot then you can use Elusive Jump in this regard, you’ll leap backwards 15y and be that much closer to the target you’re after. In doing so you’ll be able to immediately get back into the fray if you’ve got the option to turn towards your target when using an ability, which means you can be facing your back to a boss and when you use a weapon skill it’ll turn around automatically and begin attacking. This also means that Elusive Jump needs to be done without any target present in the off chance that the game tries to turn you to the boss as you use Elusive Jump and makes you jump further away than you intended to. So just be careful to disengage the target so it’s no longer selected!

The Constant Rotation

Unlike most other Jobs in the game DRG doesn’t have a relatively simple rotation, it’s usually what many would consider unnecessarily complex with a long string of at least 27 unique actions in a row before being able to repeat it. Some rotations go as far as 32 unique actions that aren’t repeated in the same fashion until the 32nd ability is used. However you can more easily break this down into an easier workable rotation as follows:

You have your original combo, we’ll take a cue from MNK and call it our Prime Combo:

  • True Thrust → Vorpal Thrust → Full Thrust

This is your main “bread and butter” combo that deals the highest damage possible within the shortest time period, and so we’ll call it your Prime combo. Then we have your Chaos Combo, as the general purpose is to be able to use Chaos Thrust, and calling it Rear combo wouldn’t really be applicable because only Impulse Drive is rear only so we’ll call this one Chaos Combo:

  • Impulse Drive (Rear Required) → Disembowel → Chaos Thrust

This combo inflicts a 10% reduction to piercing damage that helps both BRD and DRG alike while also inflicting DRGs strongest DOT, Chaos Thrust, and thus the Chaos Combo is born. Chaos Thrust should always be ticking as it’s the strongest ability that DRG has period. Unfortunately it’s mostly DOT based and so you can’t easily burst the damage of it like you can to Full Thrust and see high numbers. Now we’ll move onto our final combo, though it’s not *really* a combo, because it’s a collection of three skills that can be done on their own without needing the other, but we put them together because not only does it make the most sense but they all go pretty well together.

We call this combo the DOT Combo as two out of three of their skills are DOTs, giving DRG an access to three total DOTs stacked together giving them a powerful presence on the mob or boss even when they’re not actively attacking. The combo goes like this, though you can do them in any order you prefer it’s best to do it in this order to keep the durations lined up properly:

  • Heavy Thrust → Fracture → Phlebotomize

And that’s our third and final combo dubbed DOT Combo. And so, just to recap we’ve got three main combos on DRG to learn and use properly, Prime Combo, Chaos Combo and DOT Combo, using these three together you can take the 27 or so long unique combination of skills and abilities to a more simplistic rotation that provides you with an easier way to keep up your DPS without having to remember exactly when and where to use each and every ability or skill. And so, for simplicity’s sake we’ll break it down like that below (keep in mind the name of the combos as we’ll use them here):

  • DOT Combo (3 Skills)
  • Chaos Combo (6 Skills)
  • Prime Combo (9 Skills)
  • DOT Combo (12 Skills)
  • Prime Combo (15 Skills)
  • Chaos Combo (18 Skills)
  • DOT Combo (21 Skills)
  • Prime Combo (24 Skills)
  • Prime Combo (27 Skills)
    • Repeat

By doing this you execute a total of 27 weapon skills, and complete the DPS rotation of DRG. Unlike MNK where you can pretty much go back and forth, throwing Heavy Thrust and Fracture and Phlebotomize into the mix throws off your timers by a pretty extreme margin making you have to roll around each skill to be able to time the durations so they don’t directly overlap by too much, nor end short of reapplication making it so you have no DOT or buff applied.

Learn the rotation above, it will be the main path to pushing out as much damage as you can. So long as you recall to use your off GCD abilities like your Jumps and buffs between using your GCD skills to keep your DPS up and your downtime low, you can push more damage than this alone would provide. Additionally by using your buffs at the right time, like before Full Thrust and using Power Surge and Blood for Blood and the like stacked together, you’ll get a higher output than if you were to spread your offensive buffs around to be able to have some buff up more often. In FFXIV: ARR it’s best to stack your offensive buffs and spread your defensive buffs due to the way the game compounds one and provides diminishing returns for the latter.

Jump

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 30
  • Description: Delivers a jumping attack with a potency of 200. Returns you to your original position after the attack is made. Cannot be executed while bound.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate, Animation lock briefly after returning to position, caution advised)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: 40s
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Jump is the iconic ability of DRGs in all Final Fantasy games, and the description does a very good job of explaining what it does. You don’t actually get any closer to the mob and it does have a moderately annoying animation lock upon landing which was alleviated to a degree but still presents a notable problem that all DRG and prospective DRGs should be made aware of. With the constant motion of events the game really demands that you don’t get locked down and with DRG needing to use so many jumps as off GCD methods of generating additional damage (because, unfortunately DRG doesn’t really deal that much damage, especially not when compared to a decent MNK or SMN) it becomes a serious issue to plan around.

Jumps are however useful for a lot of various methods of increasing damage that others couldn’t, such as attacking an enemy that you can’t or don’t want to get near just yet, but still want to deal damage to. While a MNK would be forced to stay out of range you can use Jump by itself or Spineshatter Dive or Dragonfire Dive alongside Elusive Jump in order to deal damage at range without exposing yourself to too much hazardous proximity. However, as mentioned above it bears repeating that there is an animation lock, and however brief it is, it is still there and will slow you down so you can’t immediately chain your Spineshatter Dive to Elusive Jump and get in and out before the boss can attack you. So you’ll need to plan when best to use them in accordance to the attack patterns of the boss.

In the event of Twintania for example you’ll want to do it after a Dive where she drops to the ground dealing a conal AOE. By doing so you’ll avoid the damage of it and as that’s the only major AOE damage done, that’s all you’ll need to worry about. Of course you’re likely to be up close at this point anyways, but it still bears special mention.

Elusive Jump

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 35
  • Description: Executes a jump to a location 15y behind you, while removing any Heavy or Bind effects. Additional Effect: Reduces enmity (-50% Current Enmity).
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate, Animation lock briefly after new position, caution advised)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: 180s (3 Minutes)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Elusive Jump is a great means of reducing your Enmity so that you never have to worry about pulling back or not hitting quite as hard. The problem is DRG in general doesn’t deal enough damage for that to be an issue most of the time, and other times it simply isn’t required due to the way the Enmity System in FFXIV: ARR is horribly broken in favor of the Tanks. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s nothing like many other games where DPS learn to ride the “Enmity Line” so to speak and not pull too much damage while doing as much as they can at the same time. This game isn’t difficult to hold Enmity with anything remotely approaching decent gear.

Because of the ease of Enmity on anything besides a new target freshly spawned away from the Tank(s), there’s really no need for Elusive Jump much, or even the ability to be able to hold back. While considered a valuable concept to many advanced players, FFXIV: ARR changes this concept by making the players move and ‘dance’ quite a lot more by applying more unrecoverable mechanics that simply one shot or worse the group or a single player for making a mistake, or if another player in your group makes a mistake. Often it’s the latter, which causes a fair few issues with statics and Free Companies. Because of this it’s often a hassle to maintain motivation within a core group of raiders, and it’s one of the attributing factors to player burnout.

Regardless, Elusive Jump is still useful if you have a less than experienced Tank, or a group who has much weaker gear than you do, making your damage quite a bit higher than that of the Tank, which means they can’t hold Enmity quite as well. Both scenarios are relatively uncommon in this day and age, even as player turn over takes effect, you would be hard pressed to find a Tank having such a difficult time with gear that’s even a whole patch rotation out. For Endgame this means 2 major patches, such as 2.2 gear vs 2.4 gear which is on average 10-15 Item Levels difference. In niche events like that, it’s a good idea to use Elusive Jump for its intended purpose, but most of the time you’ll use it as a reverse gap closer and something to quickly get out or range as fast as possible without having to literally turn and run. By being able to do that you can stay near the boss a bit longer and get in a few hits that only ranged classes would be capable of executing, most specifically BRD as they’re the only ranged that can easily run and attack at the same time with decent strength. While some Mage abilities or spells allow them to instantly cast, they aren’t the same and again are relatively niche and don’t count the same as if they were a BRD’s arrows.

Spineshatter Dive

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 40
  • Description: Delivers a jumping attack with a potency of 170. Additional Effect: Stun. Cannot be executed while bound.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate, Animation lock briefly upon arrival at target, caution advised)
  • Duration: 2s
  • Recast Time: 90s (1 Minute, 30 Seconds)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Spineshatter Dive gives you a relatively quick recast (at 90 seconds) on a second tier damaging ability that doubles as a gap closer. This is because unlike Jump, Spineshatter Dive doesn’t return you to your original position and instead moves you to your new jumped position. This is most often used as a gap closer by DRGs, though caution needs to be exercised when doing it on adds or during events that the target needs to be stunned. Because of Spineshatter Dive’s short 2 second stun it makes it harder on your group to stun lock any mob because you drastically reduce the stun duration if you reapply immediately after another stun with a much longer duration, and it’s just as bad if not worse to do it before any stun goes off. The way FFXIV: ARR’s DR works it takes the lowest duration and halves, then quarters it after that before finally fully resisting, so if you deal a 6 second stun from a PLD then you Spineshatter Dive, you’ll erase whatever timer is left on that 6 seconds and replace it with 1 second as that’s half of what the original timer is for Spineshatter Dive. If you overwrite later it’ll be less than a full second and if you do it to begin with, even if a PLD uses Shield Bash after you’ve used the first stun as Spineshatter Dive the maximum duration will still only be 1 second.

So it stands to reason that you’ll need to know when to use Spineshatter Dive. The common understanding is to reserve it only for bosses until you know what the strategy is and what your group is going to be doing. Many, if not every single endgame boss is completely immune to stun unless it’s part of their strategy. With there being no known current endgame bosses that require stunning of any kind, though some adds do such as in Leviathan Extreme and during Twintania in the Binding Coil of Bahamut Turn 5.

Power Surge

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 45
  • Description: Increases damage dealt by a single Jump or Spineshatter Dive by 50%.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate)
  • Duration: 10s
  • Recast Time: 90s (1 Minute, 30 Seconds)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Power Surge is effectively a guaranteed Critical Hit, with the exception that it’s not really a Critical Hit and as such it can still turn Critical giving an even greater boost to damage. This is similar to WAR’s Berserk which gives them a 50% boost in Attack Power, effectively giving them FFXI’s “Mighty Strikes” which was a durational boost that gave a WAR 100% Critical Hit Rate. That aside however, Power Surge is only usable with Jump and Spineshatter Dive which means you can’t pair it with Dragonfire Dive.

I can’t tell you why, as DRG obviously needs a bit of a boost in terms of damage and an additional 50 potency (375 total potency vs 300 of Jump) isn’t going to dramatically shift the scales when Dragonfire Dive can only be done every other Power Surge, at a 3 minute recast versus Power Surge’s 90 second recast. Either way, it’s not possible to do and therefore it’s best not to dwell on it. This makes Power Surge best used for Jump as it’s the highest damage potential of the two applicable abilities. However this makes a bit of an issue in a sense because you can only use one off GCD ability and if you’re looking to gap close and want to use Power Surge as soon as possible you’ll need to settle with using Elusive Jump in reverse, Dragonfire Dive or a Power Surged Spineshatter Dive. While any of the aforementioned options are generally going to be better, sometimes you only have the option to use Spineshatter Dive instead, which makes your decision for you generally. Being as you’d lose a lot more DPS if you used Jump and then Spineshatter Dive, in a case such as this it’s best to pair Power Surge and Spineshatter Dive. In doing so you give yourself the biggest boost while not giving way to the issues of being out of range when your GCD comes up.

However, generally speaking, you’ll be in range when using Power Surge and so you’ll almost always pair it with Jump as the 40 second recast of Jump allows Jump to be used liberally without much fear of the timers being dramatically out of sync. As with other boosts, it’s best to use Power Surge when you’ve already stacked other offensive buffs, such as Internal Release and Blood for Blood, as the added power will increase more than the sum of its parts.

Dragonfire Dive

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 50
  • Description: Delivers a jumping fire-based attack with a potency of 250 to all nearby enemies. Cannot be executed while bound.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Moderate)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: 180s (3 Minutes)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: This is the “Ultimate,” “SP,” or whatever name you call the, “Not 2 hour abilities” that are stronger than usual abilities but are on an exceptionally long timer compared to everything else. It runs in the same vein as MNKs Perfect Balance and PLD’s Hallowed Ground, though to a lesser extent because the cool down is only 3 minutes long which is very likely why the potency of it is fairly weak when you consider what the ability *could* be but isn’t.

That being said, Dragonfire Dive is an AOE ability that has some slight utility in those situations, but since it’s single use and can’t be stacked with Power Surge it’s significantly less useful than you might imagine. In a situation like that Doom Spike is still going to be doing the vast majority of your damage and is overall going to contribute to a faster, cleaner run than anything else. Still, this ability is useful in a variety of ways, chiefly among them being the strongest jump (without using Power Surge of course, because then Jump would be the best) in DRG’s arsenal without equal, while at the same time dealing AOE damage to boot. Dragonfire Dive can be used as a Gap Closer as well, and it’s pretty effective at it just as Spineshatter Dive is and should be used instead of Spineshatter Dive when you’re unsure if stunning is going to be an issue or not.

In situations like that, Dragonfire Dive is best used to its fullest extent because you don’t need to worry about that sort of issue. However in the Binding Coil of Bahamut Turn 7 this can cause an issue with frozen or petrified Cyclops (Renaut) that get hit with the AOE of Dragonfire Dive. If that happens you more than likely just wiped your group to a Voice that will no longer have a place to be blocked. Because of that, as with most things DRG you need to pay very careful attention to what’s going on and what you’re doing. If you don’t it’s incredibly easy to just let it slip your mind and use an ability you shouldn’t at the wrong time and die as a result. Remember that FFXIV: ARR is incredibly unforgiving during endgame events and all it takes is one person to screw up to ruin it for the entire group. Unfortunately this often translates to quick movements needed in a specific pattern by almost every single player in your group or else you lose the event. It’s a frustratingly binary and simple issue that hopefully gets ironed out with more enjoyable and dynamic play. For now however we have to adapt to our environment and because of that we need to be able to use our arsenal to get around that, which means paying attention to your environment.

The number one issue with DRG, really with all Jobs in this game and in general players is the need to be constantly aware of your environment and what’s going on in your event. If you’re confused, odds are you’re going to mess up a trigger somewhere that needs to be specifically cleared in an exacting manner prescribed by SE’s devs in order not to fail and wipe. Player awareness is the number one thing that will decide whether you wipe or win. As such, everything about your rotation falls under this blanket of awareness because it all becomes utterly useless if you’re not paying attention and you use Dragonfire Dive and accidentally kill a Cyclops, or you use Spineshatter Dive on a mob that needed to be stunned, or you used Jump instead of either of the aforementioned to get close to Darnus in Turn 9 and you end up getting hit by his donut move. Any of these are simple mistakes but often take many runs to get to that singular point that people are having issues with. Without those issues getting to those points should be easy but by the tenth time of the night people’s nerves are frayed and it takes exceptional control and awareness to keep going.

People often fail to realize that awareness takes constant concentration and it’s more than not too easy to simply overlook something that you should have been well aware of. In and of itself these issues and mistakes don’t make for a bad player, but it’s bad players who refuse to learn the lessons these failures teach them and by repeating them they never get better. By constantly keeping aware of what’s going on and around you however, you open yourself to understanding what went wrong and how to fix it so that the next time that part of the event comes around you’ll be better prepared until you’re able to complete it.

Cross Class Actions

DRG gets less usage out of Cross Class abilities than others, this is largely because they get access to Blood for Blood natively which is an incredible increase to their DPS and by itself is quite long in its duration. Coupled with only having MRD and PGL abilities to choose from, the abilities to pick from are pretty slim with the only offensive buff really being Internal Release. They do get access to Fracture and Mercy Stroke from MRD, but those two by themselves aren’t terribly strong and particularly Fracture is another DOT that only further complicates DRGs already long and arduous rotation.

That being said, it’s better to have these abilities than to have nothing, and while DRG has some of the better offensive buffs in the game, they still can get use out of Cross Class abilities from PGL and MRD. They just don’t seem to get as much mileage out of it as others do because they are already quite loaded down with some of the better abilities and skills the game has to offer. This is somewhat ironic because they aren’t considered a top tier DPS due to the way their abilities work and the general slowness of them, even if they tend to hit for relatively high values.

Fracture

  • Type: Weapon Skill
  • Level Acquired: Level 6 MRD
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 100. Additional Effect: Damage over time with a potency of 20.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: 18s
  • Recast Time: GCD
  • Cost: 80 TP
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Fracture is a good ability to use with DRG, and it’s included in the basic rotation of 27 skills that provide the highest DPS output, by tagging this with the DOT Combo, included with Heavy Thrust and Phlebotomize you increase the total amount of damage both DOTs can do. Heavy Thrust increases DRG’s damage by a 15% modifier, which increases the DOT damage of all DOT skills, whereas the defensive debuff to a particular damage type only increases the damage of a weapon skill or initial hit as a DOT isn’t considered any particular type of damage. This way you get Heavy Thrust out of the immediately (as it’s the starter of not only the DOT Combo but the actual 27 part rotation as well) and instantly apply the strongest damage buff that DRG gets, and the only one that works for DOTs as well as normal attacks.

That said, Fracture has a pretty strong detractor, and that is the duration of 18 seconds which is pretty odd when you consider the other durations of DRGs DOTs. This is one of the major reasons that DRG gets an odd 27 part rotation whereas most others have a relatively simple 1-2 or in the case of MNK 2-1-1 combo which is a pretty simple affair to remember. Of course it gets far more complicated when you add in abilities, Jumps and buffs where you need to place them between each of your Weapon Skills and plan out accordingly so that they’re active exactly when you need them to be and not too early or not too late to the point that you’ll need to delay using a GCD skill in order to line up your off GCD buff or ability with a particular Weapon Skill. That alone is a pretty sharp decline in DPS and you should always strive to make sure that it never happens.

However, unlike other Jobs, DRG’s access to a stronger Invigorate allows them to use Fracture at almost a 100% uptime rate, and as it’s part of their main combo you should never really have to drop it, but if it ever comes to it, it can be dropped in favor of shortening the DOT combo by one making it simply: Heavy Thrust → Phlebotomize. As mentioned above though, that should never be an issue and it shouldn’t be necessary even on fights like The Binding Coil of Bahamut Turn 8 where you’re pretty much always attacking nonstop without any sort of break or reprieve from your constant carnage.

Bloodbath

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 8 MRD
  • Description: Converts 25% of physical damage dealt into HP.
  • Casting Time: Animation
  • Duration: 15s
  • Recast Time: 90s (1 Minute, 30 Seconds)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: While Lifesurge is strong in and of itself, it is only a one hit use and it’s only 10% at that, though if you augment it knowing that it provides a 50% boost to damage it’s additionally boosted by that 50% increase giving it a total of something like 15% if you take out the guaranteed Critical Hit modifier that the ability provides. However, that still pales in comparison to the restorative powers of Bloodbath. You can also stack the two together giving you a 10% recovery and a 25% from Bloodbath, while they don’t precisely combine, they’re just added together off whatever ability or skill they happen to be active during. So in this case you’ll see both the HP from Lifesurge and from Bloodbath together, giving you additional HP recovery.

While you do have access to Second Wind, DRG has less curative prowess than any other melee Job except perhaps BRD, though BRD being so far away from combat is rarely in any immediate threat of damage or danger unlike DRG. DRG is doubly endangered because of their jumps preventing them from fluid constant movement like a MNK, or being able to quickly stay or get out of range like BRD is capable of. Still, it’s important to note that DRG has more defense than MNK on average and can wear more sturdy armor giving them a bit more survivability. Though because DEF and MDEF are relatively worthless stats by themselves, in so far as they’re relatively weak on their own unless greatly stacked which isn’t happening anytime soon in FFXIV: ARR, it’s good to note that they will take a little less damage than a MNK or BRD would comparatively.

As with anything offensive you want to stack Bloodbath with Blood for Blood, Internal Release and Life Surge or Power Surge as applicable. This will give you the greatest restorative power and it’ll also make sure that any damage you receive during Blood for Blood is negated to some extent, giving you the ability to stay closer and potentially getting hit by an AOE or off shot from a mob or add without having to instantly back away or having to be covered by a PLD or healed extensively more than usual by one of your Healers. Using Bloodbath appropriately can help to make sure you survive as well if you’re expecting to get hit by an AOE and you aren’t sure if your Healers will be capable of covering you, then you can turn off Blood for Blood to reduce the incoming damage but keep Bloodbath and the other buffs on to increase your recovery. By doing this you can help to weather some smaller but still strong AOEs, especially when they’re changed together like in Turn 8 where you’re assaulted by the tower AOE, the missile AOE and sometimes mines when you’re forced to pop them.

Doing it this way you’re allowing yourself to put the most damage on the boss or mob without stressing your team any further than you normally would. And so in some circumstances it may be best to use Bloodbath defensively in such a way to keep on the boss without having to run out of range if you’re sure you can deal enough damage to recoup the lost HP. You don’t even need to recover all of it, just a decent enough portion that your Healers don’t have to spam cure you just to keep you alive, which can cause them to be distracted from their goal and inevitably cause a wipe.

Mercy Stroke

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level
  • Description: Delivers an attack with a potency of 200. Can only be executed when target's HP is below 20%. If delivered as the killing blow, up to 20% of your maximum HP will be restored.
  • Casting Time: Animation
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: 90s (1 Minute, 30 Seconds)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Mercy Stroke is nothing more than free damage every 90 seconds whether it be on a dying mob in a group or on a boss that sunk below the 20% HP mark. However, unlike other Jobs you do not want to macro Mercy Stroke onto a GCD ability because it’s so crucial for DRG to be able to keep their off GCD abilities exactly that. And while on MNK, PLD, WAR or BRD you can often endure a little overlap, DRG doesn’t have that capacity and needs every edge they can get. By doing so you’ll make sure to always keep at the upper most limit of your damage capability.

So long as you’re always sure to use Mercy Stroke when it comes up you’ll do fine. Though you can macro it onto Doom Spike because it’s not an ability you’ll commonly use on its own and it really isn’t part of any rotation so that it can be used when you’re fighting a mob of enemies in a dungeon without any real negative downsides. To do so, just copy and paste this into the macro section of FFXIV: ARR menu and drag it over the Doomspike icon on your bar:

/micon “Doomspike”
/ac “Mercy Stroke” <t>
/ac “Doomspike” <t>

By doing the above you’ll always execute Mercy Stroke as it’s up before doing Doomspike. Odds are high that you’ll execute it during off GCD and if you could be absolutely sure the recast would sync up properly like that you could do it to all your other abilities, except the problem is that you can’t be sure it’ll always sync up properly like that, and sometimes you want to use a Jump or an ability with a specific buff. Because DRG is so much more complex with their rotation than a Job like MNK, you won’t always or almost always have your buffs up at the right time and because of this it’s even more important for DRG to stick to their 27 part rotation like it’s their specific bible. Straying from it can easily reduce DPS and overall damage potential to the point of throwing the rotation entirely out of sync and making it difficult to recover while also paying attention to the mechanics and things that will cause an unrecoverable wipe.

Internal Release

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 12 PGL
  • Description: Increases Critical Hit Rate by 10%.
  • Casting Time: N/A
  • Duration: 15s
  • Recast Time: 60s (1 Minute)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Internal Release is great for DRG as their primary boost to damage is Critical Hit Rate, by boosting it further it gives them an overall higher chance of performing Critical Hits and thus boosting their already high damage potential. Though because of this, at the same time they are further reliant on RNG to achieve higher damage and from one battle to the next they can be relatively all over the map in terms of DPS performance, based entirely on how often their RNG triggers a Critical Hit.

That being said, the damage potential is still great even though Internal Release is only a 10% improvement to Critical Hit Rate. It’s a further benefit to DRG because unlike MNK they don’t have any ability that they have as part of their rotation that puts a Critical Hit at a 100% rate and so they don’t get any penalty or anything of the sort for increasing their Critical Hit Rate. The only thing a DRG needs to explicitly pay attention to is not to use Internal Release at the same time as Life Surge is active, else you are simply wasting the duration of Internal Release since Life Surge does force a Critical Hit. Except unlike MNK you have complete control over when and where you use it, rather than having to use it as an integral part of your rotation.

Second Wind

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 8 PGL
  • Description: Instantly restores own HP. Cure Potency: 450. Cure potency varies with current attack power.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: N/A
  • Recast Time: 120s (2 Minutes)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Second Wind is the only active way that a DRG can recover HP without having to hit the mob or boss or having Bloodbath active. While Life Surge does allow a conversion of 10% damage dealt to be restored as HP it’s not all that much in the grand scheme of things. Even a powerful Full Thrust that does nearly 2,000 damage is only going to restore 200 HP, while Second Wind will almost always restore at least 300 HP or more without needing to do anything but use it every 2 minutes whenever the cool down was up.

By holding onto Second Wind during fights with unavoidable AOE you’ll be able to recover from small mistakes by your Healers or party members who cause more damage to come your way than normal. Of course the damage recovery isn’t anything to scoff at because it’s always best to have a buffer of HP than to wind up dead. If you have sub 100 HP and you use Second Wind you can realistically weather another small attack, or if you use Second Wind before an AOE goes off it can prevent you from dying from not getting healed in time or from making a mistake that you shouldn’t have. So instead of dying, you’ll barely survive and that is greatly preferred to dying outright as the likelihood of surviving from being raised is much lower than barely surviving an AOE. This is because the MP cost to cast Raise is pretty steep, as well as the time needed to do so if they don’t have Swiftcast available. So keep in mind when would be best to use Second Wind and hold it as your “ace in the hole” rather than using it here and there to help keep your HP up. Your Healers are there to do that for you, Second Wind is there to make sure you don’t die to a mistake from yourself or your party, and to allow the Healers enough time to get to you and heal you back up to a safe level.

Mantra

  • Type: Ability
  • Level Acquired: Level 42 PGL
  • Description: Increases HP recovery via curing magic by 5% for self and nearby party members.
  • Casting Time: Animation (Short)
  • Duration: 15s
  • Recast Time: 120s (2 Minutes)
  • Cost: N/A
  • Combo Bonus: N/A
  • Notes: Mantra isn’t quite as useful for DRG as it is for MNK because of the dramatic reduction of healing potency. The odds are really high that of the 5 abilities you take with you into battle, this is not going to be one of them. However in the event that you do take it in lieu of something else it can be more useful than not having a fifth ability because you can help lend a bit of a hand if your party has no MNK or needs a bit of a boost to AOE healing stages in events like Titan or Leviathan where AOE damage is pretty unavoidable to an extent and AOE healing needs to go off consistently during a phase to prevent death.

Almost every event has some stage like that where the constant AOE heals need to go off to prevent people from dropping. It’s one of the more boring and mundane mechanics of FFXIV: ARR that seems so loved to be repeated consistently in every major update, but that just makes Mantra potentially more useful as a result. However, you’re going to be a lot better off with using the above five abilities as your Cross Class, because if 5% curing power is going to make a strategic difference then your group has other issues with their Healers or otherwise that need to be sorted out. They are likely close enough as they are that they can push a few different stats around or get a better piece of equipment to make up that 5% that Mantra is covering.

And so, overall Mantra really shouldn’t be used, but if it is make sure you’re in the thick of things where you can hit every party member possible with Mantra. Then you’ll be able to make the most of a pretty lackluster ability (at least when it’s Cross Classed).

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