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 Red 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 Red Mage Works in FFXIV?
Ok, Red Mage is a weird job. It is considered to be a caster job, but it is also fighting with its rapier, so… you gonna be in melee range… when? For how long? Worry not, this and many other questions I asked myself would be answered here – and believe me, there were plenty.
So, the whole Red Mage rotation and gameplay revolves around two basic things you need to know:
- There are two phases – Casting phase and Melee burst phase. Note that even if you have basic melee spells all the time, you need to use them only when you have enough mana gauge, when the icons turn blue to red and become upgraded spells. That means that it’s a pretty rare beast, and for the majority of your gameplay you will be casting.
- The whole Casting thing revolves on a job perk named Dualcast. Basically every first spell you cast (including cures) will be cast as usual, with a casting time, and every second spell will be cast instantly. This leads us to a natural conclusion: we aim to cast faster spells first, and longer spells must be cast after them. Clear so far? Let’s elaborate.
Single Target Red Mage Rotation
Well, this is my basic hotbars. You can assign them at will, but I find it convenient to arrange buttons like this.
Mana Gauge. It shows how much Black and White mana you have (in this case, zero). The casting spells build either black or white mana, and melee spells spend both at once. The goal is to cast white/black mana spells in turns so that mana builds roughly equally.
During casting rotation, you build up black and white mana until you have enough for melee phase. Now, remember about Dualcast? Well, here we have fast Spell 1 buttons which will be always cast first and slow Spell 2 buttons which are long spells and should be always cast second.
- Cast Jolt (1) as a starting spell then do slow (but now instant thanks to Dualcast) Veraero (4, white mana) or Verthunder (5, black mana).
- Do so in turns: Jolt -> Veraero, Jolt -> Verthunder, so you build both black and white mana.
- Buttons 2 and 3 are called Verfire (black mana) and Verstone (white mana).
- Verfire and Verstone are available only during proc, and when they proc, they REPLACE Jolt.
- Pair them with the opposite long spell: for example, if you cast “black” Verfire, couple it with “white” Veraero – again, so that you build black and white mana equally.
So, we have the opening spell 1: Jolt (available always), Verfire/Verstone (available on procs, always use instead of Jolt when available)
And we have a very slow spell 2: Veraero and Verthunder, which should never be cast as a first spell and only as an instant second spell thanks to Dualcast.
Single target casting rotation is as follows:
- No procs: Jolt > Veraero, Jolt > Verthunder (on my hotbars, 1-4, 1-5)
- Proc Verfire: Verfire > Veraero (2-4)
- Proc Verstone: Verstone > Verthunder (3-5)
My biggest discovery – and it’s not obvious at all! – was that the whole point of proc spells Verfire/Verstone is REPLACING JOLT. Otherwise you may think that they are used instead of Veraero/Verthunder, and it makes no sense: they hit less, and they are not always available. No, they’re replacing Jolt, because they are also fast spells, and they build mana a lot faster than Jolt, so always use those procs.
Melee Red Mage Rotation
The melee rotation is super simple: a very straightforward streak of three buttons (in my case E>R>Q):
Riposte > Zwerchhau > Redoublement.
And this is it. The trick is, you need to use them only with enough black/white mana, when the icons become red, not blue/purple like on screenshot. Red, or Enhanced version of combo does INSANE damage, and so the original, non-upgraded versions are out of question.
Due to combo’s insane damage, you won’t use it often – maybe once or twice per dungeon boss, and it’s ok. You will need 50 black AND 50 white mana for the complete combo, so engage into melee only when you have 50/50 or more. On later levels, you will get more mana accumulation options, so you can melee more often, but in general you cast until 50/50, quickly spend it for melee, return to casting.
On the upper floor of hotbar you can see the yellow button and the blue button – called Corps-a-Corps and Displacement. Corps-a-Corps jumps you in, Displacement jumps you out with a small damage to boss – these are used to quickly enter and exit melee range, to plant your melee combo and jump back to proceed with casting.
So, melee Red Mage Rotation is as follows:
- Cast until you have 50/50 black AND white mana (or you may ramp up to 100/100 for 2 combos in a row)
- Corps-a-Corps to jump to boss
- Enhanced Riposte > Enhanced Zwerchhau > Enhanced Redoublement (repeat if you have 100/100)
- Displacement to jump back and go casting again
And this is it. Easy, right?
Sidenote: I will repeat this again, yes, you don’t get to do melee combos often – it’s a very long mana accumulation phase and a very quick melee burst, this is just how it works. And it’s perfectly normal for the job.
AoE Red Mage Rotation
This is a lot more simple – like AoE rotations for most jobs – but it fucks your brain a bit.
So, the general idea is the very same: you accumulate black/white mana equally, and use Dualcast perk so that the longer spells became instant.
The fuck-up is: Spell 1, the fast spell, now are Veraero II and Verthunder II, while the “red” Spell 2 – Scatter – is the long spell now. In general, vice versa from single target rotation, and that could confuse you big time upon switching from trash to boss/single target and back.
So, AoE Red Mage Rotation is as follows:
- Veraero II (white) > Scatter, Verthunder II (black) > Scatter, rinse and repeat
When you get enough black and white mana, the only spell you can use it for is melee Enhanced Moulinet. It needs only 20 black AND 20 white mana, so it’s possible to go with it more often. Again, the rotation is even more simple:
- Corps-a-Corps (jump in) > Enhanced Moulinet (until out of black and white mana) > Displacement to jump out and cast again.
Sidenote: personally, I don’t tend to use Enhanced Moulinet – the melee phase at all – on trash. The reason is that mana accumulates very slowly, and I want to arrive by boss with 100/100 mana to open with a double melee combo, so I’m saving it during trash. Your AoE casting spells are pretty powerful anyways, so that’s not a big bother.
Single target rotation:
- Jolt > Veraero, Jolt > Verthunder
- Proc Verfire: Verfire > Veraero
- Proc Verstone: Verstone > Verthunder
Once you have 50/50 (or 100/100) mana:
- Corps-a-Corps > Enhanced Riposte > Enhanced Zwerchhau > Enhanced Redoublement > Displacement
- Veraero II > Scatter, Verthunder II > Scatter
Once you have enough mana (20, 40, 60, 80 or 100. I want at least 60 for 3 strikes to make melee phase worth the bother):
- Corps-a-Corps > Enhanced Moulinet x3 > Displacement
…or you may save mana for boss.
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 musketeering!