FFXIV: Re-Evaluation of Tanking and Healing

So, as I’ve parked most DPS jobs at 90, for the whole past week I’ve been busy with the 50-60 level leg of “unconventional” alt jobs – “unconventional” as in “non-DPS”. These are: Astrologian, White Mage (healers) and Warrior (tank).

For those of you who are not familiar with FFXIV leveling, up to 90-100% of your alt class/job XP comes from running group content. There’s a queued group finder, which allows to get HUGE experience chunks for the first daily run in several categories: normal dungeons, hard dungeons, story scenario (a time sink, cutscened plague, but also one of the most XP profitable items here), trials (arena-like raid boss encounters), normal raids (same, but one boss picked from the streak of a 12-boss storyline) and alliance raids (a 4-boss raid wing for 24 people with trash and all). This is called a duty roulette, as a dungeon/raid is picked randomly from the range of unlocked ones, and which your current class level allows to participate in.

I’m ignoring all other few XP sources, being feeble and a lot more boring than a duty roulette, so you come to level cap in an exciting manner, honing your skills and doing your best in the most stressful situations the game could offer. Well, stressful is not a bad word here – maybe it’s better to say concentrated. Anyhoo, what I’m trying to say that it’s not killing 10 boars while picking your nose, it’s maximizing your output and doing your best for the success of the team, be it 4, 8 or 24 people. And tanks/healers naturally require a lot more concentration than DPS, which brings us to the point.

In case of Warrior, the tanking experience became a walk in the park by level 50-60.

  • My damage/mitigation kits are quite sufficient for everything that’s coming my way.
  • Keeping aggro is a joke, you need to throw a tomahawk at one creature in the trash pack, and you can travel with them throughout dungeon, same with boss – no rips from other players!
  • Survival kit matters only during trash – you need your mitigation if you grab two packs, yes, but it’s nothing that a slightly competent healer wouldn’t cope with (if he’s not engulfed in dpsing and forgets about healing at all – this happens!).
  • For boss, only “tankbuster” special attacks will claw you enough to remember about mitigation, otherwise they barely scratch. Of course, step out of the bad is important.
  • Lastly, there are little to none mechanics that require tank swaps. WoW would employ at least stacks if nothing else, but here you may run a raid and serve as an extra DPS – no mechanics, no trash to pick up in most cases. I think the main reason to have a second tank in raids is mostly backup: if main tank dies, so there would be an immediate replacement for boss not to mow the others while healers rez the main tank.

Technically, all you need to do is run forward, aggro and AoE trash, feel synergy with your healer (that’s easy). And during boss fights just stay put, boss turned out of the raid and dps its butt. It’s even more relaxing than DPS! There’s less foul pools to walk out and in general, less mechanics to handle. To say nothing of survival – obviously, your armor is A LOT more forgiving to boss mechanic failures.

I’ve tanked every type of group content until 60, including solo tanking the whole Crystal Tower, and it’s been a breeze. Nothing dies or suffers on my watch (if healers and dps don’t fail miserably), and I enjoy the role a lot, unlike WoW!

What now? I think I’m gonna try yet another round with gunbreaker and have a roll with paladin – not dark knight though, no – and see if I like their vibe. But warrior – is one love, and I’m very motivated to play it, one of the most favorite jobs.

Healers, on the other hand, are a lot more stressful, but also very exciting.

Well, I need not say that healers always need to be on their toes – and especially so in FFXIV. Like 95% of the most brutal enemy attacks are telegraphed and point exactly what you need to do (step out, run away, spread out, stack etc.), but God forbid you fail doing it: the damage is almost unforgivable or lethal. Obviously, DPS and tanks (and you) are failing this or that thing, and you have to adjust. And if a person dies, it’s not the end of your woes: you’re supposed to rez (anytime, as long as you have enough mana).

So here’s the list of healer’s duties:

  • Heal damage
  • Shield from big boom mechanics (on later levels)
  • Rapidly and frantically fix mechanic failures of party members (brutal and plenty)
  • Obligatory rez the fallen if you don’t have to immediately cope with huge incoming damage
  • DPS! – yes, every free second you have, you’re supposed to weave in your DPS abilities – it makes the fights faster, smoother, and it is vital for party success during DPS check phases.
  • Lastly, follow the mechanics! No one canceled your own movement and total awareness of what’s going on in the battlefield.

Being that more complex than WoW (where you can focus on healing only, and deal with a lot smoother damage income, without drastic/panic peaks), you could presume I’d run from the role like from fire. Strange enough, I do not – and I actually like it a lot here.

Of course, it’s far from comfort, and I’d never, ever queue as a healer if tired or sleepy! I’d rather range-dps in that case, lol. On the contrary, the desire to heal arrives during my most vibrant timeframes, when I’m bubbling with energy and ready for a piece of challenge – and challenge I get. This is a super interesting activity in FFXIV, which nevertheless requires utmost concentration, juggling your kit and keeping in mind a dozen of different things… but what makes it perfect, it’s anything BUT boring, and boring is my worst enemy.

I’m happy to say that I totally mastered Astrologian – and even White Mage! – up to level 60. Everything is on tip of my fingers, I’m 100% confident of what I’m supposed to do in the most drastic, party-killing moments (if there’s anything to be saved, that is) – and I pulled a party from the clutches of death more than once by cold, calculated reaction and total control.

Healing in FFXIV is easier in community and game design sense. Everybody plays many jobs, many play tanks and healers themselves, and everybody knows they should not fail mechanics – so there’s total understanding where a healer can save the day, and where he could not. Deaths during encounter – and even wipes – are in 99% cases not the end of the world, so the only stress you experience is the excitement of the fights, not a fear to be blamed or shamed – and that’s precious.

Sidenote tip: a HoT spell on a tank is NOT advised during trash pulls – it’s guaranteed trash packs ignoring aggro and all coming for you! Wait till your tank accumulates aggro – and god forbid adds income.

Anyways, jobs themselves:

Astrologian – it remains my top one healer job. If they removed all healer jobs and said: there must be only one, I would pick astrologian. It has all the kit, it’s very fast and fluent, it’s super beautiful, and it has an extra layer of party buffs (lol, yet another thing to remember about)!

White Mage – it was not easy, but I managed and handled it in the end! By levels 50-60 it feels slower than astrologian, not exactly clumsier, but more robust, and yet it’s quite the kit to work with. And still, it remains the WoW-shaman rather than the WoW-druid vibe, despite all lilies and stuff. But I can work with it, nature and all.

Well, that’s gonna be it for tonight, and back to leveling now :)

P.S.: I think I’m dropping Sage and Reaper at all, perfectly adjusted about their rotations and gameplay, and yet not feeling inspired at the very least with the class fantasy. Never feel like playing them, so who’s to make me? Not you! :)

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