Sage to me is definitely the hardest healer to play today – even compared to Scholar :) This is the last combat job to level and master, except BLU (which is a DISGRACE).
See, the general idea is a lot like Scholar: relying on pre-emptive shields which requires exceptional knowledge of boss mechanics, a sort of passive auto minor healing, and charge-based instant saves. But in case of Sage the whole thing is so much more complex.
Scholar’s minor auto-healing comes from a fairy minion which would automatically cast heals on any damaged player. Sage? At the start of a dungeon/raid you make a link with selected party member (in 99% cases it’s tank), and the damage you deal transfers to small sustaining heals, enough to bear with non-special boss attacks. The problem is: once you distract to casting proper heals and stop dealing damage, your tank’s health pool immediately starts to get chipped away.
Scholar’s big saves are the very same three charges for instant spells, which you can use either for single target or AoE. Yet Scholar gets all three charges on demand, and can accumulate as many as 6 (3 active + 3 one button away) for the peak periods when things go south. This provides a lot of control. Sage’s charges replenish automatically one-by-one, so saving them is not an option – in fact, you better keep them rolling. Moreover, the sinister lack of direct, mana-based healing spells makes these charge heals bread-and-butter of your healing rotation – which might leave you without saves if a particularly nasty mechanic demolishes half of the raid.
Lastly, the shields/regen options come in form of combos. You need to press an extra button so that basic spell upgraded to have an extra desired effect, and that’s tight! You need shields FAST, NOW (for example, if you notice an incoming big boom or a tankbuster a bit too late), but you need to press a combo button first, then apply the required spell. This failed me a lot already – luckily, nothing too fatal so far, but still.
Of course, practice makes perfect, and by the time I make it from my current 73 to 90 I will probably be ready for raiding. Having done all types of roulettes, I wiped my group once so far – Aurum Vale trash, but hell, Aurum Vale initial trash wipes groups even without an unexpereinced Sage among them :) So, I’m moderately efficient, but it requires a lot of practice and muscle memory to reach at least a Scholar level (which is not my best healer job to play). All in all, I’m determined to make it to 90 and go Abyssos, and thus all combat jobs will be covered.
I can’t say I hate Sage, and yet it boils my brain. In a good way: I’m determined to clench my teeth and master it whatever the costs.
As for other gameplay: Abyssos is on farm. I’m rolling every token – though some guys are specifically aiming for chests, glam reasons or smth, and re-run the raid until they get them this week. Well, once they get what they want and be gone, it’s more chances for me, right? :) For now, to me every next item is desired – especially rings, as just one token transforms into a 610 slot, unlike chests/pants where you need 4, or helmets/gloves/boots where you need 2.
Not really having time for islands today, it’s a hot period for gear farming in every possible way on three alts, so I’m very, very busy.