EDIT @ 9/11/13: Due to the sheer number of questions in this thread and other Dragoon threads, I've added a section for new Dragoons and sub-50's, it's at the end of the rotation discussion.
EDIT @ 11/18/13: Added AoE section to the end of the second post
EDIT @ 12/26/13: Began updates for 2.1, will be removing some sections and updating others over the next few days (Progress so far: Main post [DONE], New dragoons [DONE], BiS [DONE], DoTs [DONE], Buffs [DONE], AoE [DONE])
EDIT @ 01/09/14: Updated stat weights and BiS lists for a range of accuracy values
EDIT @ 02/05/14: Finally updated the DoT section, and added more detailed accuracy information to the BiS section
EDIT @ 04/15/14: 2.2 Stat weights and BiS gearlists [DONE]
This guide was originally written to introduce new Dragoon players to the correct management of their wide variety of abilities so as to best maximize their dps. Thanks to the tireless dedication of the entire Dragoon community, it has since snowballed into a repository of information on everything to do with the Dragoon job. This post should provide the best summary of all of the information contained within this thread, but if there is something missing or a question that remains unanswered feel free to post. A veritable army of helpful Dragoons are standing by waiting to assist you.
First thing I want to note is that some people will take issue with my use of the term "rotation" since FFXIV works more with priority as it is difficult to maintain a large amount of uptime on most raid/dungeon bosses due to boss movement or having to switch to adds. However, as you improve as a player and get used to boss mechanics and movement your uptime on the bosses will become so consistent that your moveset will inevitably follow a predictable rotation. It is always better to think in terms of priority, but using a set rotation can help you familiarize yourself with what to use when, and help the transition into a "priority" mindset.
Second, the dragoon rotation is extremely complicated. All told our primary rotation can use up to 9 main abilities and 7 off-GCD abilities, along with 3 other main abilities (AE+slow) and 6 other off-GCD abilities that we can use depending on the situation. So at any given moment in a fight a dragoon is attempting to choose between 25 different things that they could be doing. While this gives the dragoon a complex playstyle, it's also why I love it. There is nothing a dragoon doesn't have an answer for. Also, if you get everything just right our dps can be extraordinary.
The dragoon rotation is built around maintaining your buffs and debuffs. Heavy Thrust (HT) provides a 15% damage buff when used from the flank (unless you have one of those tanks that doesn't like sitting still for some reason), and Disembowel (Dis) provides a -10% piercing resistance debuff when used after an Impulse Drive (ID) from behind. These must be maintained to ensure maximum dps. Note that a buff to damage done (HT) is not the same as a buff to damage received (Dis). Buffs to damage done will modify the base damage of the ability (e.g. 100 damage +15% from HT = 115 damage), while buffs to damage taken will use the final damage amount after if has been modified by other buffs (e.g. 100 damage +15% = 115 + 10% damage taken = 126.5 and not 100 + 15% & 10% = 125). The maintenance of these buffs/debuffs provides the first part of the dragoon rotation:
HT-ID-Dis-Chaos Thrust (CT)
Heavy Thrust is used first since you'll receive a damage boost over more abilities than you would if you started with ID-Dis-CT.
Now that both of your damage buff abilities have been applied, what do you do? Well you could just spam the ID-Dis-CT combo, in pure potency this is a 180-220-200/300=900 potency rotation, however you must remember that the DoT portion of CT has already been applied. DoTs tick ~every 3s, so a 30s DoT that ticks for 30 potency accounts for 300 potency worth of damage. That means spamming ID-Dis-CT after the CT DoT has been applied is actually only a 180-220-200=600 potency combo. Your other option is to switch to a True Thrust (TT) - Vorpal Thrust (VT) - Full Thrust (FT) combo. Though on paper this is a 150-200-330=680 potency combination compared to the 900 of ID-Dis-CT, since the CT DoT has already been applied in our rotation then the TT-VT-FT combo is actually much higher damage than spamming ID-Dis-CT.
Now you have the next part of your rotation, which we can add onto the previous moves:
So far so good.
This is the point where the true rotation management begins. HT provides a 20s buff, Dis and CT provide 30s debuffs. Your life as a dragoon now revolves around ensuring the consistent reapplication of these abilities, while maximizing your free time in between. This means if you continue using a HT-ID-Dis-CT rotation you will waste the extra 10s provided by the difference between their buff durations. What else could we fill some of that time with? Well Phlebotomize (Ph) is an extremely powerful ability (a total of 170 upfront + 150 DoT = 320 potency), only needs to be reapplied every 18s when the DoT falls off, and it doesn't require any preceding combo moves. Because of that we can stick it directly after the IDC combo, prior to beginning the TT-VT-FT combo:
Now that we've dealt with the simple stuff, let's get to business.
It Get's Complicated
Due to the difference in duration of your HT/Ph and ID-Dis-CT applications, if you use only the above rotation you will eventually begin to overwrite buffs before they were due to expire. To maximize your dps you must only reapply your 10% HT/Dis buff right before it expires, and your Ph/CT DoTs right after they fall off. This is impossible to do perfectly, but there are some rules of thumb to help. (1) after the application of HT/Ph, you have 7 abilities before you need to reapply them (so they should be reapplied on the 8th GCD). This is easy enough to calculate (20s / 2.5s GCD = 8), or try it out for yourself and see. Even with extra skill speed this works out to be pretty accurate due to some lost time due to movement/mechanics. Your 30s debuffs give you an 11 ability gap before their reapplication (30s / 2.5 GCD = 12). Again, this holds true in practice and not just on paper. With this in mind, you will end up with a staggered application of the 20s and 30s abilities since they have a differing number of ability gaps between.
So let's build our full dragoon rotation, starting with what we have previously built:
By the end of the rotation we have used 7 abilities since the last HT, so now HT should be reapplied.
But it has only been 7 moves since our last application of Dis/CT, and 4 since Ph, so we have some free time. We've already assessed that the best thing to do with free time is TT-VT-FT, so let's do that.
Now it has been 7 moves since the last Ph, so we reapply.
Now it has been 10 moves since the last Disembowel/Chaos Thrust, but remember you have to use ID prior to Dis/CT, so that will add an extra ability bringing us up to 11 moves, in perfect timing for the reapplication of our 30s debuffs.
It has again been 7 moves since our last HT, so we reapply.
But we're still not back at the start of the rotation since we've just reapplied ID-Dis-CT prior to the HT. And how do we fill free time?
7 moves since the last Ph, so reapply:
We have a little free time before we have to reapply HT and Dis/CT, so we fill it as we usually do:
It has now been 7 moves since the last application of HT, and 9 moves since our last application of Disembowel. This finally brings us back to the beginning of the rotation since now both the 20s HT and 30s ID-Dis-CT abilities must be reapplied in the order they occurred at the start of the rotation.
The full dragoon rotation is therefore #9:
A non-repeating sequence of 24 moves. Isn't dragoon life grand? Here's my crappy flow diagram to show that the thought process of the rotation isn't actually that bad once you've practiced, just a rotating cycle of 4 moves/combos.
Flow Diagram - i.imgur.com/hJFTfLf.png
This Isn't Even My Final Form
We've got our primary ability rotation down, now let's make our lives worse by talking about off-GCD abilities. They are as follows: Blood for Blood (BFB), Internal Release (IR), Life Surge (LS), Power Surge (PS), Jump, Leg Sweep (Sweep), Mercy Stroke (MS). I do not like including Dragonfire Dive (DFD) or Spineshatter Dive (SD) in the off-GCD rotation since they are your best positioning abilities. If you need to get to an add and back to the boss quickly you can use them to cut down movement and maximize your dps uptime. There are also fights where the extra stun from SD comes in handy (e.g. Amdapor Keep).
Off-GCD abilities are best used in between your other abilities. For example, after using Heavy Thrust, during the 2.5 GCD, you can Leg Sweep before the GCD comes up for your next ability. There are two problems that screw this up. First, you cannot use more than one off-GCD ability in between two main abilities without sacrificing dps. This is the design of the game so far, it ain't our fault, we just deal with it. Second, you have to spam the crap out of the abilities to get them to work. Frequently the ability won't actually go off until around the final second of your GCD, and hitting the ability in the initial 1.5s won't do anything, so get used to keyboard smashing. Let's take our main ability rotation:
Now add the off-GCD abilites.
Plus Mercy Stroke soon as the mob hits 20%. Internal Release gets used first since if you put BFB in that spot you run the risk of it falling off before you can use it on Full Thrust. It doesn't matter if IR falls off for the Full Thrust since you'll be using Life Surge on it anyway. The order of off-GCD abilites will never be the same in any two main ability rotations as they have widely differing cooldowns. The only thing you need to worry about is keeping them on cooldown at all times. Sometimes you'll want to save one or two (such as Leg Sweep for stuns or BFB/LS for bursting an add), but in general they should all be on cooldown.
The dragoon job is fiendishly complicated, but mastering the combination of buff/debuff timers and off-GCD cooldowns will cause you to transcend to the holy plane of dps glory. Also you'll spend ages optimizing your hotbars so you can keep track of all this crap. Here's my pre-2.1 keyboard+mouse guide to give a general guideline for potential hotbars setups: http://imgur.com/iSywWZ5 (M3-M5 are mouse buttons), for people with controllers you'll have to wrestle with that beast yourself.
So You're Leveling a Dragoon...
...and you’re trying to plan out your future. Sadly, you are going to be disappointed. Visions of flying through the air fill every baby Dragoon’s head, leaping onto enemies then escaping quickly to safety, or jumping into the air to avoid those pesky ground AE attacks that every single enemy uses. Then you hit 30, get your Jump…and it kind of sucks ass. It does about as much damage as any regular ability might do and it doesn’t protect you from any boss abilities.
But, before we get too deep into the Dragoon nitty gritty, let us start from the beginning. Everyone has 30 stat points to spend by the time they hit 50, and you want to know where to put yours. The following weights (provided by EasyModeX) will help you both in choosing how to spend your stat points, and when selecting which piece of gear to wear. Here are the relative stat weightings for Dragoons:
Weapon Damage: 8.732
Skill Speed: .178
This sets strength as the baseline value of 1, and compares the rest of the stats to this baseline. Obviously weapon damage is the most valuable, coming out at 8 times the value of strength, followed by determination, then crit and skill speed. So for example, if you have to sacrifice 4 points of strength to obtain 15 points of skill speed, all you need to do is multiply 15*0.178=2.67 to see that 15 skill speed is really only worth 2.67 points of strength and so it is not worth the 4 lost strength points to switch gear.
A Dragoon’s primary function is damage and, other than weapon damage, this primarily flows from our Strength stat. So when you are leveling up, every single stat point that doesn’t go into strength is just weakening your primary function. Therefore, once you hit 50 you should have plugged every single stat bonus into strength. That solves the stat issues, let’s move onto the specifics of the Dragoon job.
Lancer’s can utilize a wide range of abilities (resurrection, damage buffs, crit buffs, etc) and it is difficult to give up this utility. If we are going to do so, we want it to be for a good reason since Dragoons can only pull from the Pugilist and Marauder classes. People have been asking which cross-class abilities are the most important. This will vary by player, but there are two that you must always have since they boost your damage: (1) Internal Release, and (2) Mercy Stroke. Everything else is personal choice. Mantra is good to help your group out, Keen Flurry with help mitigate a lot of the AE damage that can occur in boss fights, and Second Wind is a nice on-demand heal. However, it’s really not a massive deal which abilities you fill your three free slots with, and are generally left to personal preference.
Now, let’s deal with the argument of “I feel like I do more damage as a Lancer instead of as a Dragoon because of Archer buffs”. The following information comes from EasyModeX on page 13:
Let’s move on to the Jumps. There are four jumping abilities (Jump, Spineshatter Dive (SD), Dragonfire Dive (DFD), and Elusive Jump (EJ)), plus Power Surge (PS) to buff either Jump or SD. Jumps are off-GCD abilities, meaning they can be used anytime you wish to smash the button. While the primary utility of these abilities is underwhelming, as mentioned by EasyModeX above they do increase your dps (including Jump without PS). That is because right after you have used one of your main abilities, while you wait for the 2.4-5s GCD, you can use Jumps to fill these empty gaps with added damage.
In addition, the Jumps have so much movement utility that you don’t just gain dps in terms of damage numbers, but the added movement provides you greater damage uptime since you’re cutting down on time spent running around. Also, each Jump has several uses outside of its primary function, here are some examples:
- can quickly attack while standing outside of AE or melee range since it'll return you to your original position (though be sure to get your timing right or you will get hit by the AE)
- it's a great "reverse" gap closer since you can use it to quickly attack a distant mob (e.g. a satin plume), then immediately return you back to the boss you were just dpsing, saving you the hassle of running all over the place
Spineshatter Dive / Dragonfire Dive:
- our primary gap closers
- great for tracking pesky moving enemies (since if you jump at a moving target you will follow it until it stops moving or the animation ends)
- they can prevent knockbacks as they will bring you to your target by the conclusion of the animation
- help you cross annoying patches of persistent ground AE
- can also be used as a gap closer if you get a good feel for its distance covered
- crossing ground AE
- removes snares
- can be used for kiting, saving you from having to use sprint
- excellent for dropping aggro since it has bonus enmity reduction (i.e. grab a mob off a healer and face it away, wait for the OT to get second aggro, then elusive jump to pass it off).
These are just a few of the handy tricks I've found with the various jumps, they have so much more utility than this. To summarize, as a Dragoon you will do more damage, be more mobile, and have more tools at your disposal to survive. As a Lancer you will have greater cross-class access, but you will slow down your groups progression, and be about as mobile as a fungus. I leave the choice to your discretion!
BiS Gear Lists
BiS lists are designed to maximize your total stat weight (using the individual stat weights discussed above) over all of your gear, while still hitting the accuracy cap required for the encounters in the game. This means an individual gear piece may not be the absolute best piece for that individual slot, but is part of a gear "set" that totals to the best overall stats. Our current knowledge regarding accuracy caps is that it increases as you move from hitting the back --> flank --> front. If you primarily damage from the back/flank then a lower accuracy rating will be fine, but if you primarily hit from the front then you'll want to do your best to hit the current max accuracy cap. This could be subject to change as we continue to test. The sets provided below will encompass a range of accuracies, and you can choose the best one for yourself based on the accuracy you want your gear to provide (the +0 accuracy set will have the base accuracy of 341, which would cover things like extreme primals that have no accuracy cap). If you don't want to deal with multiple gearsets (or have the gear to do so) a good strategy is to aim for lower native accuracy on your gearset giving you better damage stats for 95% of the rest of the game that has a low accuracy requirement, then using accuracy food to get the accuracy required for capped content.
The current flank/rear accuracy caps to aim for are ~470 for T6/7 and ~495 for T8/9, we will provide BiS gearsets for multiple accuracy caps.
For anyone who isn't too familiar with the gear sets, the Soldiery gearset will refer to the gear that can be purchased from the vendor in Mor Dhona using Soldiery tomes, and the Allagan gearset is what drops from bosses in Coil. Thanks to KrystalF for providing the BiS lists below for multiple accuracy ratings:
Pre-Turn 9 BiS
Post-Turn 9 BiS