Welcome to Bard guide from 1-70. 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.
Unlocking Bard and Role Actions:
You unlock bard through leveling your Archer to level 30. As a Bard you get to choose 5 of Role Actions that you share with the other ranged physical dps class, The Machinist. These are highly recommended :
Refresh: Regenerates the MP of yourself and nearby party members for 30 seconds. It has a 3 minute cooldown.
Tactician: Regenerates the TP of yourself and nearby party members for 30 seconds. It has a 3 minute cooldown.
Peloton: Increases the speed of yourself and nearby party members for 30 seconds outside of combat. It has a 5 second cooldown.
Second Wind: this restores some of your HP based on your attack power, adds to your survival.
Invigorate: This restores 400 TP. This skill is invaluable in AoE fights where you burn through TP quite easily.
Palisade: Reduce the physical damage taken by a target by 20% for 10 seconds. Has 150 second cooldown.
These actions are recommended and based on personal survivability\tank damage you can swap between Second Wind and Palisade.
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 refreshes. You will have a selection of cooldowns that can either increase party members’ speed, refresh their TP, MP or make enemies more vulnerable to damage. 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.
Fillers: Heavy Shot – Bloodletter\Rain of Death (they share same CD).
Support: Peloton (only out of combat), Refresh, Tactician, 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 maximize 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 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.
Here you also gain access to your first song: Mage’s ballad. A song is used on a target and it grants you a unique buff for 30 seconds. You will have 3 songs to shuffle as a bard and they all give their extra bonuses based on the crits your DoTs do. This means that in order to have any benefit from them you will have to make sure you always have DoTs up and simply wait for them to crit. When you activate Mage’s Ballad, all crits from your DoTs in the next 30 seconds till the song ends will reset the cooldown you have on Bloodletter and Rain of Death (level 45 skill). For now, Mage’s Ballad should be used as a damage cooldown.
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. At this point you would be having another song called Army’s Paeon. This Song is triggered exactly the same way as Mage’s Ballad. Army’s Paeon increases your attack speed by 4% per stack and it can have up to 4 stacks. The stacks are procced when your DoTs crit. So now your goal is shuffle between Mage’s ballad and Army’s Paeon.
By now you would have came to the concept of “Openers”. An Opener is your highest damage dealing phase in the fight usually because 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: Raging Strikes
Rotation: Straight Shot > Bloodletter > Venomous Bite > Army’s Paeon > Windbite > Barrage > Heavy Shot till you need to renew DoTs and buff. >Mage’s Ballad when Army’s Paeon ends.
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- Use Mage’s Ballad.
3– apply Windbite to all the surrounding targets one by one.
4– use Quick Nock if you can get near the targets.
5– 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 if the targets won’t last long enough or if you don’t want to spend the time dotting.
Level 52 Mark:
At this level you gain the song called “The Wanderer’s Minuet”. This is a step in which your song usage is formally set. At this point you have 3 songs, each song lasts for 30 seconds and each has an 80 second cooldown. This means you can and should always have a song up by simply using a song whenever the current one ends. Here is a quick review of the songs:
- Mage’s Ballad: Resets Bloodletter\Rain of Death anytime your DoTs crit.
- Army’s Paeon: Increases your attack speed by 4% per stack, can have 4 stacks. Stacks are gained via DoT crits.
- Wanderer’s Minuet: Allows the usage of Pitch Perfect at anywhere from 1 stack to 3 stacks. stacks are gained via DoT crits. Pitch Perfect potency is higher the more stacks you have (100 at 1, 240 at 2, 420 at 3).
This is the only real change around this level.. your main rotation stays the same, all you have to do is to always keep a song up and always always have DoTs ticking somewhere.
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.
Empyreal Arrow deserves a special mention cause 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: Raging Strikes
Rotation: Straight Shot > Bloodletter > Venomous bite > Wanderer’s Minuet > 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 making sure to keep track of the benefits of the songs.
AoE rotation: stays relatively the same.
For a bard the 60-70 phase is all about quality of life changes. Your rotation is exactly the same except a minor change at level 70.
At level 62 you gain Troubadour which adds a much more support depth to your songs more than the 2% crit chance increase. Using this cooldown on a song will give the entire party, including you, a support buff depending on the song. The cooldown lasts 30 seconds and the effects are:
- Mage’s Ballad: increases the HP of all party members by 15%. Very useful for periods of high AoE damage.
- Army’s Paeon: Reduces physical damage by 10%.
- Wanderer’s Minuet: Reduces magical damage by 10%.
So basically it falls to the Bard’s judgment on when to use this cooldown depending on the fight.
At level 64 you get a trait which upgrades your DoTs into slightly more powerful ones that last for 30 seconds. This means that the need to refresh is going to be much lower and they will be much easier to keep up now with Iron Jaws.
at level 66 you get another support cooldown Nature’s Minne. This cooldown increases the healing received by a party member or self by 20%. Tanks will love you for this. It also has a short cooldown, 45 seconds, so you can use it pretty often too. This helps a lot with tank busters.
at level 68 Empyreal Arrow uses also grant you a stack for Army’s Paeon or Wanderer’s Minuet (or a bloodletter reset for Mage’s ballad). This is a great help in case you aren’t getting very lucky with crits on your DoTs, so this allows you to manually force the stacks.
Finally At level 70 you get a skill called Refulgent Arrow. This is a unique weaponskill that is only available for use when you have Straighter Shot proc from Heavy shot. It also has 300 potency so it becomes your new Barrage Spender. The fact that it shares the same proc as Straight Shot means that spending the proc on Refulgent Arrow is more favorable, while you now refresh the Straight Shot crit buff outside of that proc.
So in the end, the rotation eventually boils down to keeping a song up at all times, keeping DoTs up at all times, using Empyreal Arrow to force procs when you need to, Refulgent Arrow whenever you get the proc with or without barrage for high damage and always firing Pitch Perfect at 3 stacks (unless the song is about to end then you fire it even with one or two stacks).
As you may have noticed, the rotation is very RNG heavy, but with all the support you can actively give to your party, this balances the bard to a good point. You will be able to deal good damage with a lot of important and effective support that could make the difference between a wipe and a victory.
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 support. 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 refresh or not is to put a mental threshold on their bars, for example:
-If the healer’s mana gets lower than 50%, start using Refresh.
-If the dps’s TP gets lower than 30% aka around 300, start using Tactician.
-when the tank is pulling and no support are needed (usually) use Foe’s Requiem. It will really help.
-Once the battle is over, instantly use Peloton. 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 use after you start a song. This makes everyone around you gain increased 15% direct hit rate for those 30 secs the CD is active 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 refresh 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 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.