FFXIV: Black Mage Guide

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BLACK MAGE GUIDE

Author: Alayna Lazriel of Gilgamesh

Patch: 4.06 – Updated: 23 Aug 2017

 

Table of Contents

 

 

  • Introduction!

 

So you’re ready to join the Order of the Black? It’s a fine choice and with a little practice and some patience, you’ll be slinging fireballs soon enough. Black Mage has been my main job in Final Fantasy XIV since April of 2014, but I will in no way say I’m the best. I do however have 10+ years experience in MMOs, and I feel I have a good grasp of how the class works. This guide will work to answer any questions you might have about the class, give you a detailed look at each ability and how it translates to the battlefield, and give you tips and pointers to increase your skill level. But first let’s take a look at what it means to be a Black Mage and what you bring to your party.

Black Mage is a ranged, magic caster that has very high burst/spike damage while maintaining a safe distance from the enemy. It is one of the hardest hitting job in the game. That comes however at the cost of longer cast times and immobility. You are essentially a turret. When allowed to stand still, the Black Mage can devastate its target. Your role in a party is to deal high single target magic damage with very high burst damage, while also providing some decent utility. Black Mage is also one of the best multi-target damage dealers in the game. If you like seeing big damage numbers, then this is the class for you. The key to becoming efficient at the job, is learning how to effectively balance casting and movement in order to achieve as much uptime on your target as possible. But don’t worry, you’ll be given several tools along the way to help with this.

Rotations

The difficulty in playing Black Mage does not come from a long, complex rotation. In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest rotations in the game. The difficulty will lie in your ability to effectively use your skillset to minimize movement and maximize uptime.

Rotations aren’t always concrete. Every encounter in the game is different, so there can never be a “master rotation” that applies no matter the situation. You must be able to adapt. For that, the most important skill you should learn while playing FFXIV is awareness. Knowing exactly what the enemy is doing, knowing each of your party member’s location, keeping an eye on all your cooldowns and effect timers, and knowing what is going on in the environment around you. But there is a blueprint you can follow. For the sake of saving time and energy, we’ll only be focusing on the rotations for max level.

  1.  Opener

Your opener is the most important part of the fight as far as your DPS is concerned. All of your party should be using all of their buffs simultaneously, so it is where you will get your highest burst of the fight. Plus, it’s much easier to maintain a high damage output, as opposed to trying to catch up.

A good player will build his opener around the fight. No two fights are the same, so your opener could and will probably vary fight to fight. You’ll want to design your opener around the first 30 seconds (roughly) of fight mechanics. Position yourself at the safest spot in the arena before the encounter begins, figure out if you have to move during your opener and use your instant casts to compensate, and add in defensive buffs as necessary. These are all things you need to be thinking of while building your opener. The primary goal in your opener is to deal as much damage as possible in as short a time as possible. Just remember that uptime is key here.

*Disclaimer – I have not tested every variation of openers. I will continue working on these throughout the expansion and make adjustments as needed. If there are any discrepancies or something I am missing, please inform me and I will test and update as necessary.*

To see potencies of current BLM Openers, check Black Mage Openers & Data.

The current opener with the highest PPS:

 

Precast Sharpcast > Blizzard III lands at pull > Enochian > Thunder III > Blizzard IV > Thundercloud > Ley Lines > Fire III > Triplecast > Fire IV > Infusion Potion > Fire IV > Swiftcast > Fire IV x 2 > Convert > Fire > Fire IV x 4 > (Firestarter if proc’d) > Blizzard III > Foul > Thunder III > Blizzard IV.

  •  Single Target Rotation

Once your opener is finished, it’s just a matter of maintaining both Enochian and your Thunder Dot.

Fire III > Fire IV x 3 > Fire > Fire IV x 3 > Firestarter (if you got it) > Blizzard III > Blizzard IV > Thunder/Thundercloud proc > Foul > Repeat.

One important thing to note during your single target rotation is that both Blizzard IV and Thunder cost MP, while Foul does not. Thunder III costs the most MP, so make sure to never cast Thunder III last before you re-enter Astral Fire III.  If you cast Foul > Thunder III > Fire III for example, there is a very good chance that you won’t have full MP entering Astral Fire III. So cast either Blizzard IV or Foul last.

During your rotation, just keep an eye on your Astral Fire/Umbral Ice timer. If you have to move, you may have to cast Fire in place of Fire IV to maintain AF. If you won’t be able to refresh AF/UI in time, use Transpose to maintain Enochian so you do not lose Foul.

  •  AoE Rotation

Black Mage really specializes in its AoE. With 6+ mobs grouped together, you can pump out upwards of 12,000 potency every 30 seconds.

Your AoE Rotation will all depend on how many enemies you are fighting. Because of the potency of Flare, your goal will be to use as many as possible, while using Foul on cooldown and any Thundercloud procs you get.

For 3 to 6 enemies: Blizzard III > Enochian > Blizzard IV > Thunder IV > Fire III > Flare x 2 > Transpose > Repeat from Blizzard IV.

With 7 or more enemies, Flare’s diminishing returns start to show, so you’ll use Fire II as well: Blizzard III > Enochian > Blizzard IV > Thunder IV >Fire III > Fire IIx 2 > Flare x 2 > Transpose > Repeat from Blizzard IV.

Use Foul on Cooldown and Thundercloudas they proc.

To see the breakdown for number of enemies, check the AoE Section in the Spreadsheet.

  • Quad Flare

This is the Quad Flare rotation. All 4 Flares will be instant cast and you are able to weave your oGCDs making this incredibly potent. This only works if Max-Ether and Convert are both off cooldown. If you don’t have an Ether, you can do three Flares.

Quad Flare: Blizzard III > Enochian > Blizzard IV > Ley Lines > Fire III > Triplecast > Flare > (Swiftcast ) > Flare> (Convert) > Flare> (Max Ether) > Flare> Transpose .

Note: Ethers and Potions of Intelligence share a cooldown. So you can’t use an Intelligence potion during a Quad Flare.

  • Managing Cooldowns

This is what will separate the mediocre Black Mages from the great ones. Everyone can learn an order of buttons to push to maximize damage for a 30 second opener. It really all comes down to maintaining that high damage output during the course of a 10+ minute fight. A lot of what goes into being good at your job isn’t just reaction, its preparation. So while the first thing we are going to talk about is important for every single job in FFXIV, it’s especially important for Black Mage.

  •  Learning the Fight

A Black Mage is most devastating when allowed to stand still. On fights with very little movement, BLM will out dps any other class. But unfortunately there are very few fights in the game which make this possible, which is what brings balance to the class. Therefore, learning a fight is extremely beneficial to us. When you have an idea of what’s coming, you can prepare yourself by prepping procs or by positioning yourself in a safe area. For example, you know the boss’s next attack could potentially target you with a ground AoE, you can save your Firestarter or Thundercloud proc in case you are targeted, or activate Manaward and take the hit if you know it won’t kill you. Ley Lines is a nice attack speed increase, but if you use it during a high movement phase of a fight, it may end up going mostly to waste. Knowing where to position yourself, and when movement is coming will be your greatest strength, and really the only way to learn the fight is to just get in there and practice.

  •  Triplecast & Swiftcast

Triplecast and Swiftcast are our most useful cooldowns. They have so many uses and they’re both only 60s cooldowns. They can be used to cast spells on the move, to avoid hardcasting longer spells like Flare or Fire III, or used to weave oGCDs like Sharpcast and Ley Lines to gain some uptime. Once you are extremely familiar with a fight, you can use Swiftcast to quickly cast a final spell right before a boss becomes untargetable. These two abilities will be invaluable on mastering Black Mage.

The duration of Swiftcast is 10 seconds, and it does not consume the buff on spells that are already instant cast. So for example, if you cast Swiftcast and then use Thundercloud , Firestarter or Scathe, you will not lose the Swiftcast buff.

Triplecast lasts for 15s and is also not affected by your procs. Swiftcast and Triplecast can also stack. Meaning that if you use both at the same time, using one spell will not consume both Swiftcast and one of your three Triplecasts.

  •  Sharpcast

Sharpcast is best used on Thunder because Thundercloud is our most potent Spell. It is especially optimal to use Sharpcast on Thunder if you are fighting multiple enemies that are spread apart. Sharpcast > Thunder III your first target, and then cast your Thundercloud on the second one. If you have Thunder ticking on multiple targets, your chance of getting another Thundercloud doubles.  Cycle your TCs around to multiple enemies while trying to avoid as much clipping as possible. Using Sharpcast to proc a Firestarter is only better when you know you’ll need it to refresh Astral Fire, but with proper planning, you should be able to avoid this.

Also note that if you currently have a Thundercloud proc available, you can Sharpcast that TC to immediately get another one. This works great for high movement phases or multiple targets.

Sharpcast has the same cooldown as both Triplecast and Swiftcast so you should always be looking to use after you cast an instant spell. This just gives you a little extra PPS from weaving.

  •  Convert & Ley Lines

As we talked about earlier, Convert has a 3 minute cooldown, and Ley Lines is a 90 second cooldown. So by using Ley Lines as soon as it’s available, assures it will always sync up with Convert . You should always use those two abilities together.

You also want to use your potion during Convert . You have to keep the fight length in mind though. Your potion cooldown is 4 and a half minutes, or 5 minutes if it’s Normal Quality. So let’s say the fight is 7 minutes. You know you’ll be able to use Convert thrice during the fight (the first being your opener). So you shouldn’t use your second potion immediately after it comes off CD. You should delay and save it for your 3rd and final Convert.

Another tip for using Ley Lines is to activate the buff, and then scoot all the way to one edge of the circle. Go as far as you can without leaving the circle. Now if you get targeted by a ground AoE, you should have enough room to move to the opposite edge of your Ley Lines, dodge the AoE, and still remain inside the Ley Lines. This works in most cases, unless the AoE is larger than the Ley Lines. 

  • Your Party

This won’t always be possible, especially in Duty Finder, but if you are in a static for high end raiding or have any type of communication with your party, let them know what you need. We don’t have the same freedom of movement that most others have, and if we are forced to move too much, our damage drops off significantly; which affects everyone. So let them know if you need to stand still in a particular spot and/or opt out of dealing with a mechanic so you can continue dealing damage. As an example, let’s say there is a point of the fight where everyone needs to stack together to soak damage. As long as you’re in a decent position, you can have everyone run to you for the stack point instead of you running to them. Or maybe there is a mechanic that requires switching debuffs with another party member. It’s always beneficial to have the other person run to you.

Another thing is, let your healers know if you are planning on taking any avoidable damage so you can keep your rotation going. Black Mage is pretty much the only job where it’s universally accepted to purposely take avoidable damage, while Dragoons on the other hand are universally expected to take avoidable damage. /jab

You should also be coordinating your buffs with the other members in your party. Abilities like: Battle Litany, Trick Attack, Fey Wind, Mage’s Ballad, Army’s Paeon, Chain Strategem, etc. are all abilities that increase raid DPS. There is also the Astrologian’s Balance and Arrow Cards, but those are RNG so you can’t really plan for them.

  • Freeze

So I wanted to touch on the Freeze spell. The damage on this spell is quite low compared to your other AoE spells but you can still find a use for it under the right circumstance.

Freeze has slightly higher PPS than Blizzard II so there really isn’t a reason you should ever use Blizzard II over Freeze. Now 99% of the time you won’t use this ability at all, and you’ll just stick to your normal AoE rotation; making sure to land as many Fire IIs, Flares and Fouls as possible. During dungeon runs where you are fighting packs of trash mobs, Your Blizzard AoEs are not needed. The damage is just too insignificant.

However, there are a few situations where Freeze can be beneficial to your DPS. Let’s say you’re fighting a group of 5-6 enemies. You’re using your normal AoE rotation ending in Flare > Transpose. After those adds die, you move on to the next phase of the fight, and you can get right back into your single target rotation. Now in order to maximize your dps, you want to make sure you’re in Umbral Ice III with full MP when the boss becomes targetable again. Well you can accomplish this by using Freeze on that group of 5-6 enemies you were just fighting. This way, you’re still doing AoE damage to a pack of mobs, but you are assuring you are in Umbral Ice III when they die. Now this only works if your Flare /Foul doesn’t kill them.

So as an example: You cast Fire III > Flare x 2 > Transpose > Foul. The mobs are still alive, but you know they won’t be alive long enough to do another AoE rotation. You can then cast Freeze a couple of times on those mobs which will put you into Umbral Ice III. The adds then die and the boss or next set of adds spawn and voilà, you’re in UI III with full MP. This assures that you have a halved Fire III cast at low mana cost.

  •  Movement

There are only a few boss encounters in the entire game where you can stand completely still, so mastering movement in a fight will be what really takes your damage to the next level. When learning a fight, spend the first few pulls figuring out exactly when the first potential movement will be, and then build your opener around that. You always want to learn the mechanics of the fight first. Once you start to feel comfortable with mechanics, it’s time to start optimizing your damage output. In order to do that, you have to experiment, take risks, and find out exactly what you can get away with, without putting yourself or your party in danger. Figure out exactly what mechanics you can ignore, how much damage certain boss abilities do to you under Manaward, safe zones of the arena, etc.

  •  Firestarter & Thundercloud

Your procs are designed so you can cast on the move. If you have to move, any proc you have becomes your #1 priority, regardless of potency or clipping. After becoming extremely comfortable and familiar with a fight, you’ll know when certain mechanics are coming and you can either prep a proc with Sharpcast, or hold on to one you get naturally for a few extra seconds. Use your Swiftcast, Triplecast and Aetherial Manipulation if you don’t have any procs, and finally if you have no other option, you can use Scathe. As mentioned earlier in the guide, I only recommend using Scathe if you have to move for longer than a single GCD and have no other cooldowns available.

  •  Aetherial Manipulation

This is only a 30 second cooldown and should be in a spot on your hotbar where it’s always at the ready. This cuts down on movement and allows you to move around the battle arena with ease. It is off the Global Cooldown so it’s best used under a instant spell, but you can’t always plan for that. There are many fights in FFXIV that require the group to stack and soak damage. You can continue casting, and use this ability to quickly get to your position. It’s also incredibly useful for dodging ground AoEs.

A tip for Aetherial Manipulation is to create a custom macro which can help you if you want to be able to move in an emergency and don’t have to time select a target.

  •  Between the Lines

You can also use Ley Lines + Between the Lines strategically. If you know you need to end up at a certain point in the arena and mechanics will force you to move, you can place your Ley Lines, move to bait a mechanic, and then use Between the Lines to teleport to your desired location.


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