Welcome to Bard guide from 1-60. In this guide I will be explaining the Bard rotation and spells in sections as you level and progress through the content of Final Fantasy XIV.
Before we start the guide please note that this is to be taken as merely extra info on the class, and not as THE proper ultimate way to play it. Remember to have fun playing the class enjoying it in your style as these are merely guidelines that would help you get better understanding of your class.
To unlock Bard you need to get your Archer class to and Pugilist to 15. Levelling the pugilist is also good in the fact that you get quite useful skills to cross class that help with survival and damage output.
First here are the skills that from my opinion help a lot when cross-classed, but they are also optional, you can still function very well without them, but having them helps:
Internal Release: unlocked by getting Pugilist to level 12. It increases your crit chance by 10% for 15 secs.
Second Wind: unlocked by getting Pugilist to level 8. this restores some of your HP, adds to your survival.
Invigorate: unlocked by getting Lancer to level 22. this restores 400 TP. This skill is invaluable in AoE fights where you burn through TP quite easily.
Basics of a Bard:
Before we can go in-depth to getting used to Bard, you need to get a grasp on what is expected of one. Bard is a Ranged Support DPS, which means that your primary task is to support your party members with your skillset, and when that is out of the way or no support is currently needed, you DPS. Your damage will not be the same as a dedicated DPS class like the Dragoon or Black Mage unless you do some min\maxing and develop a lot of skill in playing bard, so that is not focused on in this guide.
The Bard can support the party through the use of songs. You will have a selection of songs that can either increase party members’ speed, refresh their TP, MP or make enemies more vulnerable to magic damage (useful when you have magic classes in your party). As a Bard your focus should not only be on the enemy you’re fighting, but also on your party members’ bars, keeping track of their TP and MP and helping them regenerate if needed.
To make things easier to understand about the main skills Bards have, your skills are divided to simple groups:
Buffs: Straight Shot.
DoTs: Venomous Bite – Windbite – Flaming Arrow (Aoe).
Fillers: Heavy Shot – Bloodletter\Rain of Death (they share same CD).
Songs: Swiftsong (only out of combat), Mage’s Ballad, Army’s Paeon, Foe’s Requiem.
Your rotation will basically revolve around using your groups of skills in the same order I mentioned. Best order is to first buff up, then use your DoTs on the target, then use fillers till you have to refresh the buff and the DoTs again, and repeat.
Rotation at level 18 (around the time of first dungeon):
Here the rotation is extremely simple, but also important. Getting used to this simple rotation will become the basis of what will become muscle memory to you on higher levels when you have more things to add up.
When against 1-3 mobs: since tanks at this level usually have issues with aggro, its best to focus on each target on its own. Always fight the one the tank is attacking otherwise mobs will run at YOU and you don’t want that.
Rotation: Straight Shot > Venomous Bite > Heavy Shot (until straight shot or Venomous bite need to be refreshed) > Bloodletter > Misery’s End when avaliable.
This makes sure you got your crit buff on, your DoT on, constant damage using your Heavy shot, and bloodletter is off the global cooldown so it should be used BETWEEN your Global Cooldown skills. Getting used to integrate Off Global Cooldown skills in between your main skills is key to maximise efficiency, and always use it whenever its ready.
When against 4+ mobs: here you can spam your AoE skill but since its TP heavy ALWAYS stop when you reach 300tp, and switch to using your Single Target rotation mentioned above.
AoE Rotation: Straight Shot > Quick Nock (while making sure the cone attack hits everyone) > Bloodletter when its up.
Rotation at level 30:
Not much changes here, other than you becoming officially a bard (yay *fireworks*). Your rotation stays the same in essence. The only change is that you start adding more things to it gradually as you go. At this level your one and only addition in the normal rotation is another DoT. Which means you will renew two dots instead of one whenever they are almost up. Always make sure to renew them together, makes tracking them a lot easier. Also at this point you should be used to your Damage cooldowns as well, always use them right before the pull, and don’t use them all at once, always rotate them.
Single Target rotation: Straight Shot > Venomous Bite >Bloodletter > Windbite > Heavy Shot > Misery’s end.
AoE rotation: same as the level 18 one.
Rotation at level 50:
So you finally became a level 50 Bard, congratulations! As you might have guessed, your rotation does not change dramatically so far, it is only fine tuned. And by now you would have came to the concept of “Openers”. An Opener is your highest damage dealing phase in the fight usually cuz you use all your CDs to give that mean push to a boss at the start. The skills you have gained throughout your leveling will be integrated into the rotation you have been endlessly honing for those 50 levels. So don’t freak out when seeing this, you already know your way through it with muscle memory.
Opener: Hawk’s Eye
Rotation: Straight Shot > Raging Strikes > Venomous Bite > Bloodletter > Windbite > Barrage > Heavy Shot till you need to renew DoTs and buff.
The opener boils down eventually to your trusted single target rotation while excluding CDs as they will be recharging at this point. Do not use Barrage with any other skill than Heavy Shot, as you do the most damage with it.
AoE Rotation: here your AoE rotation gains a new depth. You have multiple ways to deal with your enemies. Best way I have found through experience is that you first:
1– apply both dots on your “main” target within the pull group.
2– apply Windbite to all the surrounding targets one by one.
3– use Quick Nock if you can get near the targets or Wide Volley if you are far or just lazy.
4– use Rain of Death whenever its off CD.
The reason you put DoTs on targets is because with each DoT applied, you have a better chance at resetting Rain of Death’s CD, allowing you to constantly rain fire on the enemy while the DoT is ticking, making you devastating. You can also just default to using Quick Nock or Wide Volley if the targets won’t last long enough or if you don’t want to spend the time dotting.
One spell worth mentioning for both AoE and Single target at this point is Flaming Arrow. Flaming Arrow is an AoE spell that targets an area and deals damage periodically for all enemies within that area for 30 seconds. It has a 60 seconds cooldown. This is great to use in both single target and AoE fights since you can cast it quickly and leave it while you are executing your rotation. The only trick is placing it, since you need to make sure that the tank won’t be moving and dragging the mobs to another location.
Level 52 Mark:
This level is a complete game changer for the bard. After you been used to jumping around like a happy bunny attacking while moving and dodging AoEs easily, you will have to learn to stick around in your place more often. At this level you gain the stance called “The Wanderer’s Minuet”. This stance is very important. The stance increases your damage by 30% BUT removes auto attacks and makes all your normal skills use a 1.5sec cast time. So you will have to stay put while using your skills to actually use them. But do not be alarmed (much), the cast time is not that long and you are still more flexible than magic casters.
Now why should we use this stance? Other than the fact that you get a 30% damage increase (which is a lot), the majority of the skills you get from 54-60 need the stance to be used, so you will be missing out on a lot if you don’t get used to it.
The rotation at this level is the same as the level 50 one, the only change is that you will just have to learn to stand still while attacking. I know, its hard.
Rotation at level 60:
*Dramatic music* so this is it.. You got to level 60, you’re one fancy Bard now but as you might have noticed throughout the Heavensward areas and dungeons, your rotation is more dynamic now. By this time you should have Empyreal Arrow, Iron Jaws and Sidewinder. As mentioned before, these skills (excluding Sidewinder) require the stance to be used, and they are very handy.
Empyreal Arrow deserves a special mention cuz its nature is quite different than that of Heavy Shot\Straight Shot. The skill is considered a weaponskill, which means it will use TP AND be affected by Barrage. However it’s O-GCD so you can use it in between the skills. It is your highest hitting ability so once you get it, it replaces Heavy Shot when you use Barrage.
Opener: Hawk’s Eye
Rotation: Straight Shot > Raging Strikes > Venomous bite > Bloodletter > WindBite > Barrage > Empyreal Arrow (with Barrage when off CD) > Sidewinder > Heavy Shot till your DoT reaches 5 secs > Iron Jaws.
From this point you start looking at it from a priority system prospective, which means you see if anything needs refreshing, and do it, then use your fillers (Bloodletter, Empyreal Arrow, Heavy Shot) till you need to renew another thing, and so forth.
AoE rotation: stays relatively the same with the exception that everything now has a cast timer (and more damage) than before.
Tips and Tricks:
Throughout this guide, we have covered how your rotation evolves. Now we gonna cover the little things that can make people give you commendations (hopefully, don’t chase me if they didn’t!).
1– a Bard’s tricks lie in his songs. Always keep an eye on your party member’s bars and act accordingly, remember that your are SUPPORT before you are a DPS. Easy way to know if you need to use a song or not is to put a mental threshold on their bars, for example:
-If the healer’s mana gets lower than 50%, start using Mage’s Balad.
-If the dps’s TP gets lower than 30% aka around 300, start using Army’s Paeon.
-when the tank is pulling and no songs are needed (usually) and you have magic classes in your party, use Foe’s Requiem. It will really help them.
-Once the battle is over, instantly use Swiftsong. It increases the speed of everyone around you and can make running from one area to another less tedious.
-Battle Voice can be really helpful to amplify one of your songs for those 30 secs the CD is active in, use your judgement to decide which song or time to use it in.
2– as much as getting high numbers and doing high damage always feels nice, remember that your role is to sacrifice a tiny bit of that to give support to your team through songs if they need to. Don’t be selfish and ignore someone needing a song just to get more dps on a target.
3– An often underrated tool the bard has is “Warden’s Paean”. This is a very simple skill that prevents the target (either you or other party members) from being inflicted with the next debuff within 30 secs. An example:
-A Warrior just activated Berserk, and for them that means that they will be pacified for 5 secs after a short period of time. While it is normally a healer’s task to dispel them of it once it happens, you can make everyone’s lives easier by using it on the warrior whenever they use Berserk. That way, they will be protected from the pacification and everyone can stay focused on their main jobs.
-A boss is targeting a party member with an annoying debuff (paralysis, heavy, a DoT) and you are watching the boss’s cast bar for it. you can use Warden’s Paean to protect this party member or yourself from that debuff and save your healer the time to dispel.