Exploring new FFXIV jobs/classes is challenging for a beginner. I encountered this problem myself: every next job guide you meet in the web will throw an engineering-value blueprint at you. Dozens of abilities – most of them you don’t even have until final levels. The worst thing about guides is they lack comprehension and aim to maximize your endgame damage output, and that’s a long way until that!
This guide’s goal is to educate you with the basics that will allow you to understand the core Black Mage gameplay, level safely through open world and dungeons, and provide a foundation that you can feel confident with and enhance as you please.
How Black Mage Works in FFXIV?
The general idea is simple: you have three types of spells. Thunder spells are a DoT (damage over time) you need to maintain on your target/targets. Fire spells spend your mana and dish out tons of damage. Ice spells do a lot less damage, but replenish your mana.
So, basically what you need to do is:
- Apply and maintain Thunder DoT in the beginning
- Spend your mana for Fire spells
- When out of mana, switch to Ice spells until you have a full mana bar
As with all the FFXIV jobs, there’s a number of spells for a single enemy and a number of spells for multiple enemies. In very, very rare occasions – like story solo duties – you will need to switch quickly between both, but mostly you are casting only solo target spells during boss fights and in open world questing, and use AoE only for dungeon trash mobs.
So, my advice is: not to run out of your hotbar space, you don’t need to hav eboth AoE and single target spells visible at the same time. Assign one hotbar for your solo target rotation and another hotbar for AoE rotation. This way you can use the very same 1-5 convenient buttons for basic core spells in any situation.
For example, this is my solo hotbar (1):
And this is my AoE hotbar (9):
Whether in dungeon or solo duty, all I need to do is to press the arrow and proceed with convenient 1-5 buttons for basic spells. For example, when I queue in dungeon, I use hotbar 9 to clear out the trash, then I switch to hotbar 1 in a couple of clicks when I’m approaching a boss. It is better and more convenient than playing a piano of ctrl+1 or whatever your keybinds are :)
So, let’s dive in a bit deeper with basic spells now.
There are two spells:
- Thunder (later upgrades to Thunder III) – use for single target
- Thunder II (later upgrades to Thunder IV) – use for AoE (many targets)
You want Thunder ticking all the time, so cast it in the beginning, and renew it only when it’s about to expire. When Thunder button glows, it means you can cast it in an instant, without cast time, and you should!
Fire Black Mage Spells: How to Spend Your Mana
Fire spells do the most of your damage, so you need to cast as many as mana pool allows.
Before level 35, you just spam:
- Fire I for single target
- Fire II for AoE
After level 35, you have:
- Fire III – cast this once with full mana to start Fire phase – it empowers your next Fire spells
- Fire I – proceed with casting Fire I spells until you run out of mana
- Fire II – in AoE situations, just spam Fire II
After level 60, you get Fire IV – you major nuke spell, and the game changes a bit:
- Fire III – again, cast this once with full mana to empower your next Fire spells
- Fire IV – then you need to cast these as many as possible before your mana runs out
- Now we explain the gauge – this bad boy:
3 fire sticks mean that your Fire spells got empowered by Fire III, and timer shows when this buff runs out. Before it does, 4-6 seconds or so, cast Fire I once to renew this timer and buff, and then you can have another round of Fire IV. Fire I is faster and less expensive to cast, so that’s why we use it instead of Fire III.
So, ideally your solo target Fire phases look like this:
- Before level 35: Fire I until you run out of mana
- Level 35-60: Fire III once, then spam Fire I until you run out of mana
- Level 60 and up: Fire III once, spam Fire IV, renew timer with Fire I, spam Fire IV again until out of mana
Finally, Fire III button may proc and glow same as Thunder – this also means instant cast, and you should press it as soon as possible.
For AoE, at level 50 you get a bad boy named Flare which is a very slow cast, does INSANE damage, but spends all your remaining mana. I say we spend it when we have not enough mana for Fire II, but have some left, so:
- Before level 50: Fire II until you run out of mana
- Level 50 and up: Fire II until you run out of mana, Flare to burn the remains
Ice Black Mage Spells: How to Replenish your Mana
There are three important things to remember:
First, ice spells still cost some mana, so you don’t want to get a zero mana and run out of options to cast anyhting at all, so track this. There are life saving options, like manafont and lucid dreaming, but you better save them for other occasions.
Second, you need to stop Ice casting immediately when your mana pool is full, and switch to Fire spells. As enjoyable as their animations are, Ice spells do feeble, ridiculous damage compared to Fire spells!
Three, ice spells make your Fire spells cost less mana, so you may start fighting with a single round of ice rotation to get these buffs. Anyways:
Before level 35, when out of mana, you just spam:
- Blizzard I for single target
- Blizzard II for AoE
After level 35, when out of mana, you just spam:
- Blizzard III for single target – since 35 we forget about Blizzard I forever
- Blizzard II for AoE
Later, at level 40 we get AoE nuke Freeze and at level 58 single target nuke Blizzard IV. Effectively, you need just one cast of these to replenish your mana pool. The trick is they must be first empowered by previous spells, so:
- Level 40 AoE: Blizzard II once – Freeze once, switch to Fire spells
- Level 58 single target: Blizzard III once – Blizzard IV once, switch to Fire spells
Do and maintain Thunder I (later III) for single target and Thunder II (later IV) for many targets!
Solo Target Black Mage Rotation Explained:
- Fire Phase: Fire III (power buff) -> spam Fire IV (track the timer) -> Fire I (to refill timer) -> spam Fire IV until out of mana
- Ice Phase: Blizzard III (access to Blizzard IV) -> Blizzard IV (now you have full mana, go Fire!)
AoE Black Mage Rotation Explained:
- Fire Phase: spam Fire II -> Flare (when no mana for Fire II)
- Ice Phase: Blizzard II (access to Freeze) -> Freeze (now you have full mana, go Fire!)
There are a lot of extra spells and buffs to explore which will make your damage even more terrifying, but now you have a foundation to build upon!
Have fun with the destruction!