How2BRD the Carraway Way
by Carraway Author
Last updated: 2012/04/16
Playing Archer throughout Final Fantasy XIV has been something of an emotional rollercoaster. Fundamental changes have been made a few times to our playstyle and how our damage output breaks down between normal attacks and weaponskills. With the implementation of patch 1.20, however, balance between the physical DPS classes has never been better, and ARC takes full advantage of the combo system by bypassing positional requirements and relying solely on distance, a far easier variable to control for the most part. The fast-paced nature of combos reinforces a focus on strict timing and prioritization, which means that gaps in player skill are all the more noticeable. By equipping yourself with as much knowledge as possible, you can supplement your button-pushing skills with the ability to make the right decisions at the right time.
Now, with 1.21, the Archer can take on a new role. The Bard job sacrifices some pure DPS output (Keen Flury, Blood for Blood, Invigorate) for support abilities, songs, and a new AoE weaponskill. In the end, a Bard's personal DPS plus DPS contribution to other party members can result in a net gain over playing Archer.
What You Need
Gear and Stats
For some gear selections, there is no absolute best-in-slot. Use your best judgment based on your damage output breakdowns.
Weapon: Ifrit's Bow > Mischievous Mogbow > Alesone's Songbow > Ul'dahn Composite Longbow > Crab Bow +1 > Ul'dahn Longbow > Crab Bow NQ
Arrows: Cobalt Arrow HQ > Cobalt Arrow
Until further testing can be performed, I have purposely excluded faster weapons. Base damage is, by far, the most important stat on a weapon and should be the primary consideration. With the implementation of combos and the action overhaul of 1.20, ARC's total damage output favors weaponskill damage to non-Barrage Light Shot damage at 60%/40% or more. BRD's damage breakdown operates in similar fashion.
Seiken on the official FFXIV forums has done some updated statistic testing, revealing stat caps on L52 targets. That information can be found here: http://forum.square-enix.com/ffxiv/t...IE-ATK-Testing
Based on his test results and my own observations, here are my recommendations for gear based purely on damage output. Realistically, you will always want to wear applicable AF for song bonuses when singing those songs, i.e. Choral Shirt for Ballad, Choral Tights for Paeon, and Choral Ringband for Minuet.
Each stat affects the following:
DEX → ranged damage and accuracy
PIE → ranged damage
Attack Power → ranged damage
Critical Rate → ranged critical hit rate
Critical Attack Power → ranged damage on critical hits
Accuracy → ranged accuracy
Accuracy with the 8-person party Strength in Numbers buff averages around 99.9% over several hours' worth of fighting against L60+ targets, making it a non-issue. Essentially, your prioritization for damage output should focus on bringing DEX and PIE to their relevant stat caps against the targets you typically fight, then raising ATK as much as possible.
Head: Paragon's Crown > Choral Chapeau
Body: Darklight Corselet > Raptorskin Harness (PIE) ~ Rainmaker's Tunic (PIE) > Choral Shirt
Waist: Flame Sergeant's Sash > Scarlet Sash > Veteran's Field Belt > Tarred Velveteen Longsash
Hands: Felt Bracers (ATK or DEX) ~ Fingerless Raptorskin Gloves of Slaying (ATK or DEX)
Legs: Raptorskin Subligar (STR+DEX) ~ Felt Trousers (STR+DEX) > Choral Tights
Feet: Darklight Boots ~ Darklight Caligae > Choral Sandals
Earrings: Explorer's Earrings > Peach Blossom
Neck: Electrum Gorget +1
Wrists: Spinel Braclets +1 ~ Tourmaline Bracelets +1
Rings: Spinel Ring +1 / Tourmaline Ring +1, use one of each or two of one depending on personal stats
Weapon: Dexterity / Heaven's Fist (ATK)
Head: Manaflight (M.Eva)
Body: Piety / Savage Might (C.ATK)
Waist: Bloodthirst (HP) / Touch of Serenity (-Enmity)
Hands: Dexterity / Heaven's Fist (ATK)
Legs: Swordsman's Cry (STR/DEX) / Watchman's Vigil (VIT/DEX)
Feet: Bloodthirst (HP)
When melding materia beyond the first, consider that the chance for adding a materia is based on the individual point value, and the lower the value is (on both the materia already added and the materia being added), the higher the chances are of success.
Skill and Trait Selection
Recommended Cross-class Skills
* Cure (CNJ L2)
* Raise (CNJ L18)
* Stoneskin (CNJ L26)
* Sacred Prism (CNJ L34)
* Sanguine Rite (THM L30)
These skills will allow you to supplement any WHM presence in your party with additional support abilities. You can use Sacred Prism + Stoneskin/Sanguine Rite in many situations, such as to protect BLMs that are mid-cast; you can back up heals on the main tank or anyone else; you can Raise if WHMs are unable to do so.
Bard Skills and Songs
Minuet of Rigor (280 MP):
+35 acc/m.acc without Choral Ringband, +43 acc/m.acc with Choral Ringband
+71 acc/m.acc with BV and without Choral Ringband, +86 acc/m.acc with BV and with Choral Ringband
Ballad of the Magi (280 MP):
+20 MP/tick without Choral Shirt, +26 MP/tick with Choral Shirt
+40 MP/tick with BV and without Choral Shirt, +51 MP/tick with BV and with Choral Shirt
Paeon of War (140 MP, 1000 TP):
+50 TP/tick without Choral Tights, +60 TP/tick with Choral Tights
+100 TP/tick with BV and without Choral Tights, +120 TP/tick with BV and with Choral Tights
Swiftsong (280 MP):
Increases movement speed by 20% until you use an enmity-incurring action or are attacked
Increases movement speed by 40% with BV
*I'm unsure about the exact movement speed increases
Battle of Voice:
Lasts 30 seconds, affects individual songs as described above, plus boosts maximum HP by +25% on all party members in range when initially used
Each BRD can only apply one song effect to a given party member at a time. If one BRD sings Ballad, then immediately sings Minuet, the Minuet will overwrite the Ballad. If one BRD sings Ballad and one BRD sings Minuet, party members will retain both Ballad and Minuet. However, one BRD can apply different songs to different party members so long as you carefully measure the radius of your song effect. You can maintain different song sets in this manner while ensuring that the last song is the one with the effect you want for yourself -- usually Paeon if DPSing, or Ballad if healing.
For example, against Miser's Mistress in Aurum Vale, a BRD can Battle Voice, sing Ballad at the back line, then run to the front line and sing Paeon. The Battle Voice effect will impact both the Ballad and the Paeon. Or you can BV+Paeon at the front line, then Ballad at the back line, if you want that BV'd Ballad effect on yourself.
You can also use a macro to swap specific AF pieces when singing the applicable songs (special thanks to Cataclysm Mhakaracca of Durandal for the syntax):
The SystemCode:/battlemode off /wait 1 /equip body "Choral Shirt" /wait 1 /action "Ballad of Magi" <me> /wait 6 /equip body "Darklight Corselet" /battlemode on
Raging Strike → Light Shot to charge maximum Raging Strike → Quelling Strike → Light Shot → Raging Strike
Barrage → Light Shot
Heavy Shot (>8 yalms) → Quick Nock → Rain of Death
Piercing Arrow (>8 yalms) → Gloom Arrow → Bloodletter
Heavy Shot (>8 yalms) → Leaden Arrow → Wide Volley
Piercing Arrow (>8 yalms) → Gloom Arrow
Heavy Shot (>8 yalms) → Leaden Arrow
- Ideally, you will be desperately trying to hit 1000 TP on time to make sure everything is on cooldown. That is the overriding principle of the prioritization system: trying to keep every combo WS on cooldown.
- Light Shot no longer interrupts combos or consumes the combo bonus, so it should be kept on cooldown as much as possible, even between individual steps of combos.
- Shadowbind is a great TP dump for damage when used outside of combos since it only costs 250 and does similar damage to Leaden/Gloom Arrow. However, you shouldn't use it if it will prevent you from immediately going into a combo. So, if all second- and third-step combo actions are on cooldown and your TP is at 1250 or higher, use Shadowbind. Or if everything is on cooldown and you know you can get 1000 TP after Shadowbinding anyway, in time for the next two-step combo, use Shadowbind.
- Quelling Strike returns 450 TP when it lands with an attack. So, if you use it with a weaponskill that costs 1000 TP, you will only lose 550 TP; if you use it with a free weaponskill as part of a combo, you will gain 450 TP. Quelling Strike can now also consume Raging Strike to grant additional TP when used with Light Shot. The proper usage is to charge Raging Strike first, consume it with Quelling Strike, fire Light Shot, then reapply Raging Strike.
Rain of Death is the new priority for DPS against multiple mobs. If unable to combo properly due to range constraints, you can still fire it independently with 3000 TP. Wide Volley is, of course, the only other option.
To reiterate, finding the optimal methodologies and setups and loadouts is a continual work-in-progress, a task that is never finished. Please respond with any questions, corrections, comments, points of discussion, etc.
Keep in mind that things may change drastically in forthcoming patches. I will continue to update this guide as mechanics are modified or become better understood.
Special thanks to: Blue Garter's ARCs and BRDs, especially Peng and Rich; Kaeko and Seiken of Dancing Mad LS (Figaro/Aegis); Tachi Koma for his work on BGParser; everyone who rates up my doe-abuse picture on ffxivpro