Written By: Rai Geki

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Updated: 12/10/2017 (Patch 4.1)

Table of Contents

I. Beginner Section:
– Introduction
– Glossary of Terms
– Job Gauge and Basics
– Gear and Stat Priority
– Openers
– Rotation – Single Target
– Rotation – Area of Effect

II. Intermediate Section:
– Changes from 3.0

– Mana Management
– Ability Optimization
– Buff Management
– Utility
– Macros

III. Advanced Section:
– Movement and Uptime
– Theorycrafting
– Raiding and Savage

IV. Comparison to Other DPS Jobs

V. Quick Guide (TL;DR and FAQ Section)

VI. Ending Thoughts

VII. Sources and References

 

Beginner Section

Introduction

Black Mage is one of the three Caster jobs as of 4.0, and the traditional Mage/stationary turret damage dealer job. The design of it concentrates around using your mana to cast Fire abilities under the Astral Fire (AF) buff, and then transposing into Umbral Ice (UI) to regain the used mana back. After full, you transpose again back to AF to continue using the higher potency Fire abilities. As such, mana resources aren’t a problem for this job. The key to a good Black Mage comes from having high casting uptime (eg. always keep casting) and good “ticker” management. Tickers refer to the Astral/Umbral timer (13s), Foul timer (30s), Sharpcast/Thundercloud (15/12s) and finally the server manatick (though the impact of this is largely reduced in Stormblood). The core rotatio`n of the job is simple to execute, but being able to stand casting no matter what mechanic is thrown at you is the key to optimizing your output. Knowing both the fight you’re doing, and coordinating with your team members is a vital component to great gameplay.

Skills and Ability Descriptions: http://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/jobguide/blackmage/

As there is a very nice list of every ability on the official site, please refer to that for the actual descriptions. Optimization for the abilities will be on a later part of this guide.

 

Glossary of Terms

AF – Astral Fire

UI – Umbral Ice

SpS – Spell Speed

DHit – Direct Hit

DET – Determination

BiS – Best in Slot

TC – Thundercloud

F1-F4 – Fire to Fire IV

B1-B4 – Blizzard to Blizzard IV

T3-T4 – Thunder 3 to Thunder IV

SC – Swiftcast

ShC – Sharpcast

TriC – Triplecast

 

Job Gauge and Basics

This guide focuses on the lv70 Black Mage that has the full gauge unlocked.

Astral Fire / Umbral Ice

Depicted as the three crystals on the top left, these signal how many stacks of AF/UI you have. When Fire/Fire II/Fire III or Flare is used, you gain 13s of Astral Fire and vice versa for BI/II/III and Freeze. The first two give one stack and F3/Flare give you a full III stack.

 

Buff MP Cost Increase Fire Damage MP Cost Decrease Damage Decrease Cast time Reduction MP Regen

(per tick)

AF I 2.0x to Fire 1.4x 0.5x to Ice 0.9x to Ice  
AF II 2.0x to Fire 1.6x 0.25x to Ice 0.8x to Ice  
AF III 2.0x to Fire 1.8x 0.25x to Ice 0.7x to Ice 0.5x to Ice  
UI I 0.5x to Fire 0.9x to Fire 32% of total MP
UI II 0.25x to Fire 0.8x to Fire 47% of total MP
UI III 0.25x to Fire 0.7x to Fire 0.5x to Fire 62% of total MP

 

Enochian

In 4.0, Enochian was changed to be a permanent buff on activation and stays as long as you have Astral/Umbral stacks. It now gives you 10% damage and unlocks Fire IV and Blizzard IV. In addition, while Enochian is up, the Foul timer (purple ticker on the right) counts to 30s and then allows you to use Foul while resetting itself, starting to build up for another. The cooldown of Transpose is 12s and gives you 13s of the opposite attunement, which can be used to keep Enochian up infinitely.

 

Umbral Heart

Using Blizzard IV gives you three stacks of Umbral Hearts. This is represented by the 3 “needles” on the bottom left of the job gauge. Each Fire ability you use (apart from Firestarter and Fire III from Umbral) consumes one stack and has its mana cost be reduced by 50%. Flare consumes all stacks and uses 1/3 of your current mana.

 

Gear and Stat Priority

The general agreed stat priority for patch 4.06:

SpS = DHit > Det > Crit, until the threshold where Crit > Det (Secondary Stat Scaling per Point)

There are currently no released Stat Weights for Stormblood. Instead we use a priority system or mathematically calculated BiS sets based on what we know about the behaviour of substats right now. NOTE: What stat is better depends a lot on your current gear. Nemekh and the Theoryjerks have made a spreadsheet that utilizes known information about the substats and created a Gear Stat Calculation Spreadsheet that you can use to compare different gearset interactions.

There are quite a few BiS sets out right now, and which one you want is really up to preference. I’ve chosen the approach of getting the minimum SPS I want to execute certain things (look more below) and then focusing the rest on DHit/Crit because the current meta gains a lot from crit due to Scholar’s Chain Strategem, Dragoon’s Battle Litany and Bard’s Critical Up.

Here are a few example BiS sets, in no order of what set’s better than the other:

SpS > DHit > Det > Crit at 1917 SpS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/11VUE Boiled Amberjack Head

SpS > DHit > Crit = Det at 1917 SpS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/12U4H Boiled Amberjack Head

DHit = SpS > Crit > Det at 1919 SpS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/136E6 Boiled Amberjack Head

DHit = Crit > SpS > Det at 1384 SpS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/137L1 Persimmon Leaf Sushi

DHit > SpS/Crit > Det at 1661 SpS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/12ZKW Pork Kakuni

DHit = SpS = Crit = Det at 1419 SpS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/1292O Pork Kakuni

(Created by various people from the BLM community)

Choosing the sub-stats should mostly rely upon your own comfort with the job and your latency. For example, higher ping needs more Spell Speed to execute the rotation reliably. The base rotation is comfortably manageable at around 1200 Spell Speed. The 1917 BiS list has a recast of 2.26s. Source: Universal GCD Calculator (4.0) by Orinx.

Here are some threshold comparisons by Laqi Thish:

Base Rotation

1100+ SS F1 F4 F4 F4 F4 B3 4x F4 in second half of Astral Fire
2152+ SS F3 F4 F4 F4 T3P F1 3x F4 + T3P in first half of Astral Fire (without Triple/LL)

Ley Lines

1321+ SS F3 (Tri) F4 (Pot) F4 (SC) F4 F4 T3P F1 4x F4 + T3P in first half of Sharp T3 Opener
1555+ SS F3 (Tri) F4 (Pot) F4 F4 F4 T3P F1 4x F4 + T3P in first half of Sharp T3 Opener (no SC)
1438+ SS F1 F4 F4 F4 F4 TC B3 4x F4 + T3P in first half of Sharp T3 Opener (Tri)

 

Some opinions on Spell Speed vs Crit

Spell Speed has two instant benefits to it. First is reducing your GCD by the tiered amounts based on how much you have, as well as the direct effects on the Thunder dot. In a vacuum assuming full uptime Spell Speed will also give you extra activations into the same duration, which can mean anything from an extra Foul to an extra Blizzard III depending on the fight and your current position in rotation. Having higher SPS also helps in fitting certain abilities into buff windows like Trick Attack or Hypercharge. The more you have, the more leniency you also get when executing your rotation, and this shouldn’t be underestimated- especially when learning the job. Due to the current meta though, I’ve opted to go for lower Spell Speed values and invest in more Critical Hit instead, after reaching a comfortable level of speed. The difference between the substats isn’t large enough to make a direct claim on which build is better, and all of them work well for the job so there are some BLMs who go for the traditional max Spell Speed possible, some get something inbetween, and some go for the crit road.

 

TL;DR: While the BLM benefits greatly from Spell Speed (gives you a more lenient rotation and in theory more activations on dummy fights (O1S, O2S, O3S to an extent)), DHIT/CRIT > SPS > DET supports the critical meta party composition that’s going on right now (Litany/Strategem/Bard’s Critical Up) and the overall high potencies of the Black Mage. When choosing a substat for focus, go for the Spell Speed value that you’re comfortable executing your rotation in, and then invest on other stats.

 

Openers

These openers are fairly close to each other in potency. The Sharpcast Fire is better on paper, but aligns badly with party buffs (for example into Trick Attack you’ll have to put Blizzard III and Blizzard IV assuming no procs). Personally I prefer the B3 Firestarter opener just because inserting the Thundercloud proc chance inside Astral is much more convenient having a Firestarter proc to refresh the Astral duration.

Blizzard III + Firestarter

http://ffxivrotations.com/11oj

One of the reasons to start with a buildup Ice phase is to allow time to pass for Foul to line up with the Blizzard phase. Using 4x F4 at the start with Triplecast and Swiftcast is just enough to get all of them under your base recast and then refresh AF with Fire, avoiding all clipping on the Opener.

 

Blizzard III + Thundercloud

http://ffxivrotations.com/13o0

This opener makes use of the conventional sharpcast start from 3.0, though this time it’s on Thunder III instead of Fire. Both Thunder and its proc are used before Fire to get a GCD window for Potion usage. With Infusion being 30s you can have your full opener + the last Thunder III into its duration. Use the Sharpcast at 10s on pulltimer. For potion placement, you can use it either after the Thundercloud proc, or after the first Triplecasted Fire IV, depending if you want to risk not getting the T3 at next Umbral phase in (if it’s a TC proc and you don’t get procs in the astral you’ll still get it in). Also has a convenient placement for Manashift for Bard, which is equals to 9s more 3% damage. It’s still possible to get all Fire IVs even without the Firestarter in this opener, though for the later part you may need to save Swiftcast + Flare to refresh the Astral.

 

Sharpcast Fire Opener

http://ffxivrotations.com/13oc

3.0 Style opener for quick burst of Astral Fire. Works for things where you need to get in your Fire phase before a certain mechanic (O3S Spellblade on the pull for example, O1S Downburst). Downside is that the rotation is so fast that Foul won’t be back up quick enough and there’s a high chance you’re waiting for it unless you get lucky with procs.

 

Extra: Foul Opener

http://ffxivrotations.com/13u3

Old version: http://ffxivrotations.com/10vs

Pre-instance: Blizzard III + Enochian + Blizzard IV, store Foul
15s pull macro when Foul is at 11s
Start casting F3 at 6s left on Foul and -3s left on pull timer
Lower sps: use Ley Lines prepull

This only works for the first pull. This opener abuses the non-resetting properties of the BLM gauge (to allow keeping foul between instances like in dungeons). So it’s possible to enter a new room with Enochian active and transpose to keep your stored Foul + let the timer tick for another one. This means that you can open the fight by using Foul two times.

Excluding Foul, no potion contribution, base recast of 2.5s

https://i.imgur.com/vCSkSXR.png

Opener Elapsed Time Potency PPS Comment
B3 + ShC Thundercloud 37.19 6635.4 178.41 Party buff alignment, Thunder uptime
B3 + ShC Firestarter 36.185 6637.6 180.29 Party buff alignment, Astral refresh
Sharpcast Fire 23.505 4509 191.83 Unsync Foul, miss party buffs
Foul Opener 33.01 7035 212.6 One per instance

Examples of Opener usage:

O1S/O2S/O3S/O4S: either B3 opener works for all turns

O1S/O3S: Optional Sharpcast Fire for fight alignment / quick burst before mechanics

 

Rotation – Single Target

FFXIV: BLM SSS V4S at 0:26 (5638) w/ Blizzard III + ShC Thunder opener

 

4.0 Rotation: 6x Fire IV

http://ffxivrotations.com/12ut

 

This rotation utilizes the Umbral Hearts from Blizzard IV to pull off 6 Fire IVs in your Astral Phase. If when transposing you have enough mana to cast Blizzard IV, do it first. Use either Foul or B4 as the last ability in your Umbral Ice, or otherwise as discussed in Mana Management there’s a case where you don’t have enough mana for the sixth Fire IV.

 

3.0 Rotation: 5x Fire IV

http://ffxivrotations.com/11oh

 

The old 3.0 rotation you can use when you have a Foul timer at 10+ seconds due to downtime or procs.

To make sure you have a Foul for the Umbral phase and that you don’t end up waiting for a manatick, the optimal gameplay goes around utilizing both rotations, but as a new Black Mage I recommend using Blizzard IV on every rotation.

To decide if you want to Blizzard IV or not, depends on your Foul timer or Sharpcast to get you a guaranteed proc to delay the rotation. When you’re under Ley Lines, or are about to use triplecast, it’s often beneficial to cast Blizzard IV anyway. In short, if a fight has a lot of downtime that gives you “free” foul ticks, that means you’re going to be pretty safe going with the old 3.0 rotation and skipping Blizzard IV, such as in O4S.

 

Rotation Breakdown

Here’s a basic rotation breakdown up to 5 minutes using the default values and no procs (2.5s recast). Under Ley Lines these become 2.12 for base recast and 2.38 for IV abilities, and 1.46 for III.

 

3.0 vs 4.0 Single Target Rotation Comparison

This chart has Astral Buff (1.8x) and Enochian (1.1x) active. (Excluding 1.3x from Magick and Mend)

 

Rotation – Area of Effect

The AoE rotation consists of casting as many Flares as possible while filling in with Thundercloud IV procs and Fouls to rotate around the 12s transpose timer. Fire II is viable to use as a filler when you don’t have any resources to swiftcast (Swiftcast/Triplecast) the Flares or sharpcast to ensure a TC IV proc or if the enemy packs are dying slowly. Umbral Hearts give you another activation of Flare.

Preparation

Blizzard III > Blizzard IV > Thunder IV > Fire III

 

“Opener AoE”

When you have everything available, regardless of enemy count. You can include HQ Max-Ether to get another Flare.

http://ffxivrotations.com/145i

 

 

General Rotation (3+ Targets)

http://ffxivrotations.com/145f

 

Flare > Flare (Transpose) > Foul > T4 > B4 > F3 (~15s excluding T4)

Adding in Fire IIs result in slight pps gains when used in the rotation at high enemy count when you have no swiftcast tools available. You can use a TC proc to weave the transpose to reduce clipping, and if you only have one swiftcast use it on the latter Flare for the same purpose. Refresh Thunder IV when it’s running out (18s).

DialaceStarvy’s BLM AoE chart goes deeper into the mechanics of BLM AoE:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Hh7KK499i-UPxuIfW87bP0h3wW7znUMzaTf957ql94c/edit#gid=0

The general idea is that the more tools you have to use to fasten your Flare Rotation the better it is to skip Fire II completely, even on a high enemy count. With no CDs and no procs to use, you can use Fire IIs at +7 targets for slight gains.

After transpose, hold after manatick a little while to ensure two ticks of mana before the next Astral.

 

Intermediate Section

Changes from 3.0

Blizzard The additional effect “Heavy” has been removed.

Umbral Ice duration increased from 12 to 13 seconds.

Fire MP cost has been reduced.

Astral Fire duration increased from 12 seconds to 13 seconds.

Fire II Potency reduced from 100 to 80.
Thunder II Deals lightning damage with a potency of 30 to target and all enemies nearby it.

Additional Effect: Lightning damage over time

Potency: 30

Duration: 12s

Manaward The effect of Manaward now also includes physical damage.

(Manawall removed)

Thunder III Cast time reduced from 3.5 to 2.5 seconds.
Flare Potency is now reduced by 15% for the second enemy, 30% for the third, 45% for the fourth, 60% for the fifth, and 70% less for all remaining enemies.
Sharpcast Duration increased from 10 to 15 seconds.
Enochian Duration has been removed.

The effect is now canceled if Astral Fire or Umbral Ice end.

Blizzard IV Cast time reduced from 3 to 2.8 seconds. MP cost has been reduced.

Potency reduced from 280 to 260.

Fire IV Cast time reduced from 3 to 2.8 seconds. Potency reduced from 280 to 260.
Removed Skills Raging Strikes, Lethargy, Manawall, Ruin, Physick, Eye for an Eye, Virus

 

The most notable changes are the reduced cast time to Fire IV and Blizzard IV, their potency nerfs from 280 to 260, and Enochian now being a permanent buff at +10% damage. Raging Strikes has been removed.

 

Mana Management

Since Astral Fire locks you out of any external mana regenerating sources, Lucid Dreaming, Refresh etc are useless on you. Instead Mana Management for the BLM comes from understanding the costs of the different abilities you have and making sure you don’t get locked out of casting the next spell. Astral Fire puts a 2x mana cost multiplier on your Fire abilities, effectively making Fire and Fire IV from 1200 to 2400. Umbral Hearts reduce the cost by half again, putting them to their original cost as long as you have them to spend.

Astral/Umbral Behaviour 4.0

Name Astral Fire III Umbral Ice III
Fire/Fire IV 2400 300
Fire II 3600 450
Fire III 4800 600
Flare All All
Blizzard 120 480
Blizzard II/IV 240 960
Blizzard III 360 1440
Freeze 600 2400

Other abilities

Scathe 960
Thunder III 1920
Thunder IV 2160
Sleep 1200

With the removal of Piety all races at lv70 start at 15,480 MP. After the last spell you cast in Umbral Ice, you can either get a manatick or you don’t. If you cast Thunder as the last ability in your Umbral Ice, it can mean that you spend the manacost of Thunder III (1920), but without the tick you’ll start the next Astral on 12960 MP. If you cast Blizzard IV as the last ability before F3 and don’t get the tick, you start your Astral phase on 13920 MP. If you get the manatick or cast Foul, you start at 14880 MP. Requirement to cast Blizzard III in Astral Fire III is 360 MP.

 

Rotation with Umbral Hearts (6x F4, 1x F1)

T3 before F3:
12960-1200-1200-1200-2400-2400-2400-2400 = 2160 MP.
Can’t cast last F4.

Manatick/Foul before F3:
14480-1200-1200-1200-2400-2400-2400-2400 = 1280 MP.
OK for B4

B4 before F3:
13920-1200-1200-1200-2400-2400-2400-2400= 720 MP.

OK for Foul

and as you can see, this is where we run into a problem. We want to get 6x F4 in the Astral Phase, but if you use T3 like this and the manatick doesn’t come, then you don’t have a choice but to go early into Umbral with 2160 MP, even though a little bit more would’ve netted you another F4.

 

Rotation without Umbral Hearts

T3:
12960-2400-2400-2400-2400-2400 = 960 MP
Can’t cast last F4

Manatick/Foul:
14880-2400-2400-2400-2400-2400-2400 = 480 MP
OK

 

Convert

Convert gives you 4644 MP, which is almost enough for 2x Fire IVs. Combined with the pre-existing mana you have it’ll always grant you those 2 extra activations. When the MP is managed improperly you can lock yourself into a situation where you don’t have enough mana to cast anything. The CD of Convert is 180s, which means that you’ll have one on every second Ley Lines. Try to use it paired with a Firestarter proc ready so you’re good to go with the extended Astral Fire phase.

Also, using Scathe is 960 MP. Generally you can only afford to use this in Umbral without losing a Fire spell. In the event you end up at uncastable MP (for example 1280 MP – 960 Scathe = 320 MP), you need to Transpose and hope you have a Swiftcast ready to use on Blizzard III to continue the rotation. They altered Fire value from 1440 to 1200 in a recent patch (4.05), and this made the mana management much more simple, as the mana traps are much less frequent and really only happen through special cases like Scathe, or losing mana from some other source, or dropping Astral Fire and thus changing the mana values for abilities.

 

Mana Shift

While it is true that the job has unlimited resources, the rotation of the job is quite tied into a pattern where using it requires some precise timing if you don’t want to clip your GCD or lose potential Fire IV mana. This would happen in the Umbral Phase, and the most favorable part is right after either a Thundercloud proc or a swiftcasted Blizzard IV + the manatick after. The usage of Manashift is for Bard for more Foe Requiem uptime, or for healers.

Mana Shift placement for Sharpcast Thunder Opener by Laqi Thish/Eirene Snow

TL;DR: In the Umbral Ice phase, always do the following order of casts if possible:

Blizzard IV > Thunder III > Foul

Tip: To know that you’re safe to cast the next Fire IV, you need to be above 2400+360 mana (Fire + B3).

 

Ability Optimization

Thunder III and Thundercloud

Thunder III and Thundercloud are one of the more debated topics on “when should I use?”. DialaceStarvy did some nice napkin math on this, and the result seems to be that for manually refreshing Thunder III, the rule of reapplying at < 12s still stands.

While excluding Enochian:

Manual Thunder III refresh vs waiting for TC Proc:

Chance of Thundercloud = 10% (0.9 chance to fail)
Manually refreshing = 8-n more ticks with no proc
Dot potency + proc chance with SPS = 66.6p
Thunder III: 390p
Thundercloud: 390p+320p
Chance to fail: 0.9^n
Chance to succeed in n ticks = 1- 0.9^n
[(1 – 0.9^n) * 320] = [0.9^n * 44 (8 – n)]
Equal at 4.09 in dot ticks
Server tick 3s, 24-((4.09)*3)=11.73
Result: Manual refresh below 12s

Thundercloud vs Fire IV

Fire IV Potency:  468
Thundercloud Full Potency: 710
Thundercloud Initial: 390
Dot potency: 40
Duration: 21s
T3P + 2 ticks = 470 Potency
Result: Worth skipping Fire IV for when Thundercloud is used at < 15s

Sharpcast Thundercloud vs Sharpcast Fire

Quote from DialaceStarvy: “The maths would estimate that Sharpcast on Thunder III is worth about 80 potency more than a Sharpcast on Fire III, but this is ignoring rotational changes that the procs may give.”

With that out of the way, it’s essential to know that Thundercloud can be used without losing a Fire IV on certain conditions. When refreshing AF with Fire you have a 13s window of executing abilities. Looking at the earlier Spell Speed thresholds, if you’re at 1100+ SPS (and similar latency at 40ms as tested) you can fit in 4x F4 and B3 after the Fire. The basic rotation is optimal on 6x F4s inside the Astral Phase. So if you get a Thundercloud proc, you have a few placement options, knowing that the early half of Fire can afford 3 abilities, and the late half you can fit in 4 because of the quick Blizzard III.

When you’re under buffs like Ley Lines/Arrow or have Triplecast, it’s possible to fasten out the GCD so you can fit the Thundercloud before the Fire. For this you only need to hit 2.40s Recast (tier at 982 SPS). If your Thunder tick is running out, refresh it before casting B4 or Foul if possible. If Thunder is already running, you can skip on it on the UI phase. Delay your Thundercloud until the last second but use it if you’re under any snapshotting buffs (Battle Litany, Balance, etc).

 

Foul

Foul timer starts ticking the instant you use Enochian, and keeps building as long as it’s active. Therefore, when nothing is happening, you can use Transpose to hold the Enochian timer. It takes 30s to build up one Foul. The ideal placement for Foul is as one of the abilities you execute in Umbral Ice. There are times when you have a Foul almost ready on top of your old one while you’re still in Astral Fire. Generally you don’t want to use Foul in it, but to not lose an activation you can replace a F4. However, if you’re under Ley Lines or have a Firestarter proc ready, you can do so without any loss however since you’re fast enough having to refresh your Astral only once.

 

Firestarter

You can get the effect of Firestarter from casting Fire with a 40% chance or guaranteed through Sharpcast. It allows you to cast Fire III instantly without mana cost. The main usage for this ability is going to be for movement and refreshing Astral Fire, but it also has very high base potency in itself, and can be delayed for fitting into buffs right after your previous cast.

 

Firestarter on Umbral Ice

If for some reason you’re left with a Firestarter proc inside Umbral, you can transpose into AF1 to get a little bit of extra potency out of it.

F3 on Umbral (240*0.7*1.1)/2.5 = 184.8p, 73.92 pps
F3 on AF1 + transpose clip (240*1.4*1.1)/(2.5+0.75) = 369.6p, 113.72 pps

 

Scathe

Scathe is the very last resort for keeping uptime when your methods of movement aren’t available or you just can’t do anything else (for example “Stop” mechanics don’t often give you time for a full cast). Scathe is also useful when a boss is about to jump and you don’t have time to cast another of your main abilities. Remember that using scathe almost guaranteedly makes you lose Fire IV cast on that Astral Phase because of its mana cost, so use it only when necessary to keep your uptime. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t do anything for more than 1.5s or so it’s more beneficial to Scathe than delay.

 

Freeze

Currently there are very few places where it’s worth casting, but it can in theory give you free 100 potency if used under correct conditions. The idea behind it is that while you’re waiting on downtime, for boss to reappear and such, you could precast a Freeze on an upcoming enemy for free 100 potency, if you manage to time it correctly. The issue not always using it is that Freeze also gives you an Umbral Stack. So if you’re juggling with one stack on transpose, and you’re on Astral, casting that Freeze would just drop your Enochian altogether. Using it on Umbral would give you a second stack, which doesn’t mean that much, but two stacks turn your 50% reduction on Fire abilities to 25%, which in return makes you start with slightly less mana on the next Astral.

When it’s alright to use this ability however, is if the boss disappears for less than 13s and you have 3 Umbral Stacks already. Few such examples are in Alexander 4 Savage, where you can precast on the legs, and in Alexander 12 Savage, where you can precast on the four adds after the boss disappears or A7S adds/boss when they jump. If you’re under Umbral you can also use this for the various downtimes/jumps Neo Exdeath does in O4S.

 

Ending a Fight

If the fight is ending soon, try to fit in a swiftcasted ability. If you’re going into Umbral Ice at the end, you can instead cast a Flare to finish off. Hardcasted Flare’s pps is 128.7 (4s).

Other options: B3+F3 = (264*0.7+264*0.7)/3.5 = 105.6pps
B3 + Scathe = 69.36pps / 95.24pps
B3 + B1 = 85.83pps

 

Buff Management

Sharpcast

General rule of thumb is to try to have it up for your Thunder III that you cast in Umbral Ice, or use it on a proc. If you know you have to move, and will need the Firestarter to refresh Astral or have Convert ready, use it for Fire to ensure a Firestarter proc. Remember that Sharpcast has a 15s duration.

F3 > F4 > F4 > T3C > F1 > F4 > F4 > F4 > F4 > B3

 

Ley Lines

For each fight you can get a certain amount of activations (90s CD). For optimal usage, you need to analyze the fight, measure how long it usually takes for your group to clear it, and then slot them into places on the fight where you can stand on them for full duration. With the addition of Between the Lines, you can use this ability also to cancel knockbacks. And remember that Ley Lines covers quite a large distance (the size of a default targeted aoe) so after you place your Lines you can slidecast to the edge of it, bait an aoe on that, and not have to walk out of the buff area when you go to the other side.

 

Triplecast/Swiftcast

By far the best ability addition to the Black Mage in 4.0, this skill allows you to have great mobility for times of heavy movement. It gives you three instant abilities on a one-minute cooldown. Paired with Swiftcast it’s now possible to have four instants on demand every minute. For optimization and usages see the “Savage part” to get an idea about this. When not used for movement, use Triplecast/Swiftcast on Fire IV to lower it’s cast time. You can also use these abilities to cover up any mistakes in rotation (if you need to refresh Fire quick for example or put in a Foul right before you get a new one).

 

Manaward

Creates a barrier that nullifies damage totaling up to 30% of maximum HP. Very useful for reducing damage overall, but is mostly used as a safeguard when taking care of AoEs or not being able to move for a little while into healer stack. For example, you can use Manaward to guard yourself from Fire III in O4S. Not specific to this tier, but earlier in A4S or Thordan Ex you could use Manaward to not have to move for some targeted AoEs.

 

Utility

Most of the BLM utility comes from the caster-shared pool of cross class skills. Even Apocatastasis, formerly unique to BLM, is now found in that kit.

Swiftcast Instant cast for any ability, definite pick

 

Mana Shift (use on Bard for more Foes or healers, or on Dark Knight with Darkside off)

 

Addle / Apocatastasis (Damage Mitigation)

 

Diversion and or Lucid Dreaming (enmity management)

 

Diversion is good to use for your opener and then for times when a new add spawns to reduce snap aggro.

Addle is on a 90s cooldown and replaced the old Virus. 10% INT down, useful on group AoEs and mitigating busters.

Apocatastasis is still an excellent ability (and gives good mitigation options when paired with Palisade). Mostly used on single-target magical Tank busters.

Lucid Dreaming is mostly useless on BLM as mana gainer, but is instead used as enmity reduction (think of old Shroud). It drops your current threat by half. If you accidentally get into a mana-lock (because of whatever reason, for example Emptiness hit in O4S puts a dent in your current mana) it’s useful after transpose to continue casting without waiting.

Surecast prevents knockbacks for its duration (5s). Useful for Exdeath’s Vacuum Wave, and Shinryu’s Tidal Wave.

Break/Drain/Erase: no real usage this tier. Maybe in Ultimate?

 

Role Action kit for Deltascape Savage:

O1S/O2S/O3S/O4S: Diversion, Lucid Dreaming, Addle, Swiftcast, Mana Shift/Apocatastasis

O4S Exdeath: Diversion, Lucid Dreaming, Addle, Swiftcast, Surecast

 

Macros

BLM doesn’t have that many useful macros, mainly due to the reason that you already have very limited OffGCD windows (and those are taken by your buffs and utility abilities regardless). But here are some that are good to use. Mouseover works when used on the field also (instead of just party list).

Glossary

/micon “Action” Creates an icon for the macro
/ac “Action” <mo> Activates action on the target hovered by mouse.
/ac “Action” <num> Activates action on the target party member.

BLM Specific Macros

/micon “Aetherial Manipulation”

/ac “Aetherial Manipulation” <mo>

Teleports you to onhover target party member.

Use <num> to teleport to a chosen party member.

/micon “Apocatastasis”

/ac “Apocatastasis” <mo>

Uses ability “Apocatastasis” on chosen hover target.
/micon “Mana Shift”

/ac “Mana Shift” <mo>

/ac “Mana Shift” <8>

Uses ability “Mana Shift” as mouseover on priority, if nothing is moused over uses on party member 8.

Advanced Section

Movement and Uptime

Slidecasting

By taking advantage of the game’s internal check for when an ability has “finished casting”, it’s possible to start moving right before the progress bar finishes at around 0.3 seconds left, depending on your latency. This allows for slight positional adjustments and movement over multiple casts without losing any uptime. This is one of the most important things to master as a Black Mage, so be sure to practice it a lot.

 

GCD “Windows”

Whenever you’re casting, you can’t execute anything else. But the Black Mage also has several abilities that you want to use now and then like all your buffs etc. Between each Fire III and Blizzard III, there is a small window to execute one of these abilities. The cast time of the opposing attunement spells (Fire on Umbral Ice or Blizzard on Astral Fire) is halved. Therefore at default Spell Speed you have 1.75 cast on Blizzard III when on Astral Fire and 2.5 recast, leaving you with exactly 0.75 seconds to execute something which is about the same as what you need to execute an OffGCD without clipping. The other, more lenient windows for using OffGCD abilities are everytime you do an Instant ability. By using Swiftcast and Triplecast you can use the next GCD to weave in abilities, and the same works for your instant procs (Firestarter and Thundercloud).

 

Autoattacks

Whenever you’re in melee range, right click the boss to autoattack. It’s not a lot of damage, but it adds up to a small gain over the fight.

 

OffGCD Clipping

This is one of the issues all casters and healers have. Often times you find that you want to use an OffGCD (like Addle, Swiftcast to prepare a movement, Aetherial Manipulation, etc), but also knowing that it delays your rotation by the ability stiff (~0.75s) makes you wish for that Firestarter proc or that you could finish your rotation and use it after your Astral/Umbral transpose. Boss casts usually don’t last long enough for you to be able to wait. So especially with damage reduction abilities like Addle and Apocatastasis, you need to measure and discuss with your group if using a certain ability is worth in the specific spot.

In most cases, assuming no overhealing is going on, clipping your GCD to allow a healer to not having to cast a healing ability will be a gain for the group. In short: do your best to help your group by using Addle/Apoc/Mana Shift etc. For example in O4S Addling the ability Almagest is a huge boon in reducing the totals (since the ability reduces all the dot ticks). It’s not possible to plan a clipless OffGCD for everything, and when you do the best bet is to try to adjust your gameplay to the group’s needs. This is definitely one of the topics that sometimes gets heated since you’re “sacrificing your uptime” for the benefit of the group and this job is generally seen as selfish for not doing so (it doesn’t have the leniency of either Dualcast or Ruin II that RDM and SMN have).

For comparison, if you clip your GCD four times in a fight (let’s say 4 Addle usages) that would mean one lost GCD  for you but 10% reduction in four AoE abilities that do add up in the end for the healers. Also another thing: because of the clipping there will be times where you might drop your Astral if the earlier period was movement heavy and you didn’t plan the skill sequence properly. My opinion at this point is that unless your group needs that to survive, it’s not worth it to drop your buffs for the reduction.

 

Ley Lines and Between the Lines

With the addition of Between the Lines, Ley Lines actually works as an “Aetherial” target now. You can place your Lines on a suitable spot, then move and during a proc or swift GCD you can teleport back. Between the Lines also works well for knockback cancelling. If you use the ability right after you get knocked back, you can teleport back to your lines without losing much uptime.

 

Swiftcast and Procs

BLM now has two main abilities for distance movement: Swiftcast and Triplecast. They are both on a one minute cooldown, so you can realistically have a means for movement every 30s. In addition to this, Firestarter and Thundercloud both give you time for movement for a GCD, and they both can be planned through the usage of Sharpcast, which is another ability on a one-minute cooldown.

 

Aetherial Manipulation

An underrated ability by new Black Mages, this is one of the abilities that almost defines the job. By selecting a party member you can teleport right next to them with this skill. Use it for stacking, use it for going away to someone, use it for everything that requires movement and you can use someone else (like a Bard) to get you into your desired location. They fixed the casting lock that happens after you teleport a bit in 4.0, but it’s still best to execute this skill after an instant GCD or in the window after Fire/Blizzard III.

 

Rescue

This is a pretty questionable one since it’s hard for your healers to know when it’s suitable to use, but it’s possible to plan it for some fights for that little extra mobility. However it works far better on Melees as Rescue on the wrong time has a high chance of either interrupting your casting or make you clip.

 

Sleep/Blizzard II/Crowd Control

Rest in peace, Wanderer’s Palace.

 

Theorycrafting

This section covers some theory aspects of the job that weren’t discussed before and links you to sites that have them explained, where you can find some more information etc that are not directly linked to BLM theory.

 

BLM 4.0 Things by Laqi Thish

Black Mage Openers and Data by Alayna Lazriel

The Black Mage Sanctuary Official Forums

Universal GCD Calculator (4.0) by Orinx

lv70 Statistic Intervals by Nemekh (Theoryjerks)

Secondary Stat Scaling

Gear Stat Calculation Spreadsheet by MikeMatrix

How to be a Math Wizard by Dervy and theorycrafting co

https://i.imgur.com/65J8w4I.png Sharpcast Thunder by Laqi (initial hit)

https://i.imgur.com/p8mxZsK.png Sharpcast Fire by Laqi (initial hit)

 

PPS Values

Potency per Second values of Different Abilities (potency/cast time)

Ability Potency PPS + Enochian (10%)
Thundercloud 781 312.4 PPS (full duration), 189.2 (1 tick)
Foul 715 286 PPS
Firestarter 475.2 190.08 PPS
Fire IV 514.8 183.86 PPS
Thunder III 429 171.6 PPS (full duration)
III Transpose 184.8 105.6
Fire 356.4 142.56 PPS
Blizzard IV 286 102.14 PPS
Fire II 158.4 52.8 PPS per target
Scathe 110 / 220 44 / 88 PPS (20%)
Freeze 110 36.66 PPS per target
Blizzard II 55 22 PPS per target (recast)

 

Raiding and Savage

For raiding, currently the best food for Black Mage is either Pork Kakuni (building DHit), Persimmon Leaf Sushi (Crit Build) or the Boiled Amberjack Head (the example 1917 SPS build) and the best potion is the Infusion of Intelligence. In terms of damage, Black Mage doesn’t bring any raid dps contribution. Every BLM ability apart from Foul is classified an elemental aspect (Fire, Ice or Lightning) and as such they are “Spells”, not Weaponskills. They are affected by buffs increasing Magic Damage. Plan Ley Lines around your group’s damage buffs and your own uptime. See how many activations you can get in a fight and map your cds around your group’s average duration of the fight.

 

Quick Tips Shortlist

This list consists of some tips to think about when optimizing a fight. When the duration changes, you also need to adjust different usages of abilities in the fights so you get the best possible ability activation count.

Alte Roite (6:00)
  • For 6min killtime you get 4 reasonable activations (last one would be directly at 6:00) so can do alternate strats: Ley Lines on 0:25, 2:00, 3:30, 5:00
  • Reason for delaying is for the first one to be used for canceling your knockback to get into position for Levinbolt
  • If you don’t delay, place Second Ley Lines inside one of the brown “circles” on the outer part of the arena and you can dodge both the fires while standing on lines Image 1 Image 2
  • Addle the Blaze and skip the stack
  • Place Ley on your designated “spot” and use it again for canceling downburst knockback
  • Triplecast for Downburst+Clamp if you need to move

 

Catastrophe (6:30)
  • Ley Lines on CD for all activations
  • Triplecast for tentacle movement
  • use Blizzard III right before the -100GS cast goes off
  • You can Sharpcast a proc to move to middle after -100 GS or AM if you’re down
  • Swiftcast is good for Gimbal weaving after Earthquake
  • Triplecast for tentacle movement again
  • If your group does dps UP for Gravitational you can take your time slidecasting to middle for dps knockback
  • Get a sharpcast proc for Long drop movement + AM or get close enough for Litany/raidwide buffs

 

Halicarnassus (8:00)
  • With Sharpcast Fire opener you can have Triplecast and Convert up for the Dragon at 3:05 if your group’s dps is distributed evenly on the add and boss
  • Sharpcast can be planned for Thunder to have dots ticking on both the boss and the add for each floor (2:05 White Flame, 3:05 Dragon, 4:40 Apanda).
  • On the part with Apanda, you can stack with another player from the tile next to you for Oink to not have to stack in the middle
  • Triplecast / Swiftcast for Briar Movement/Dark Token dives
  • Blizzard III right before the debuff from Game with Animals and make sure Thunder is running
  • Foul the Dragon and the Apanda
  • Triplecast for Hammer movement
  • Ninjas: Did someone say Mount Yorn

 

Exdeath (4:00)
  • Pick up Surecast for this fight. Use it on Vacuum Wave. If you have a Paladin, they can cover you for the first or second one.
  • Triplecast is MVP for dealing with Blizzard III, but is fairly wasted with Thunder III and Fire III.
  • Triplecast for the dualcast Blizzard III at second Black Hole, or Sharpcast + Swiftcast if you used Triplecast after Decisive Battle.
  • Save Addle for the second dualcast Fire III that happens during the Black Holes.
  • Manaward can be used either for the Fire III at the start or during the Fire III at Black Holes.

 

Neo Exdeath (11:00)
  • Addle Almagests on CD, then use on either the one after Grand Cross Omega or the one after that to sync with 2mins
  • For the second Delta Attack, you can stand away from the group with Manaward + place it between the Inner/Outer Antilights and close to the middle so you can keep standing in it Image 1
  • For Grand Cross Delta you can use Between the Lines to teleport back to your Lines after knockback from taking damage
  • If you Foul a Meteor next to the boss it hits both of them
  • It’s possible to get a GCD off before the colours mechanic resolves

 

Comparison to other DPS Jobs

Let’s compare the casters directly first. The following statistics were taken from fflogs.com on 12/13/2017. These are 99th percentile numbers, which means that there are still more optimized runs above these, but 99th percentile numbers provide a good measure of how much damage a job can do on the high end.

O1S – Alte Roite:

O2S – Catastrophe:

O3S – Halicarnassus:

O4S – Neo Exdeath:

Due to the large benefit from having chain Resurrection, Red Mage is a safe bet for progression raiding. However as for personal and group damage, in the current meta (12/2017) the Black Mage falls behind the Summoner. This has made most some top Black Mages switch to the Summoner job in newer content (Shinryu/Unending Coil). While there is no question right now that the Summoner is performing better than the BLM in 4.1, when you’re not going for min-max or meta scenes, the first factor when choosing a comp will always be the level of skill with which your raid members can play their chosen jobs. Only when the jobs are being played optimally you can start talking about changing roles for the absolute best performance.

With SMN claiming the top caster DPS honors, and RDM being a popular choice for progression because of their utility, how does Black Mage compare to the whole picture, then?

FFLogs DPS Statistics for 99th percentile (12/13/2017)

When talking about meta compositions or which job is worth bringing, my answer is that the Black Mage is currently not in the meta comp along with Samurai due to Machinist and Summoner being better picks for the whole group due to raid dps contribution. The three most run comps right now are NIN/DRG/MCH/BRD, NIN/DRG/BRD/SMN, NIN/DRG/MCH/SMN.

This chart also takes into account personal damage only. For example, the contribution from Ninja and Bard to the group through their own utilities (such as Trick Attack, Battle Voice) easily lifts them into the best jobs to pick, ahead of the personal DPS jobs, assuming all the jobs are played to their best extent in the group. For some comparisons that take Raid DPS into account, you can use Blackcat’s great tool here:

http://xivrdps.herokuapp.com/

It’s also worth noting that when you’re going with a full physical comp, the raid is going to miss out on the Caster cross classes (namely Addle, Mana Shift and Apocatastasis).

 

Quick Guide (FAQ Section)

Compiling a few mostly asked questions about the behaviour of BLM here. Refer to the earlier guide sections for a  more thorough look into the job.

Opener (Blizzard III + Firestarter) at -4s:

B3 (Eno) T3 B4 F3 (TriC) F4 (Pot) F4 (LL, ShC) F4 (SC) F4 (Convert) F1 F4 F4 FS F4 F4 B3 Foul T3 B4

 

Rotation:

F3 F4 F4 F4 F1 F4 F4 F4 B3 B4 T3 Foul

 

Stat Priority and BiS Sets:

WD > INT > SPS/DHIT > CRIT/DET

SPS > DHIT > DET > CRIT at 1917 SPS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/11VUE Boiled Amberjack Head

SPS > DHIT > CRIT = DET at 1917 SPS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/12U4H Boiled Amberjack Head

DHIT = SPS > CRIT > DET at 1919 SPS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/136E6 Boiled Amberjack Head

DHIT = CRIT > SPS > DET at 1384 SPS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/137L1 Persimmon Leaf Sushi

DHIT > SPS/CRIT > DET at 1661 SPS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/12ZKW Pork Kakuni

DHIT = SPS = CRIT = DET at 1419 SPS http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/1292O Pork Kakuni

 

When to use Thundercloud?

When DoT is < 15. Best case: in Umbral Ice. Can be fit into first half of Astral Fire with 3x F4 at 1438+ SPS with LL, and 995+ with Triplecast.

 

Sharpcast on Fire or Thunder III?

Use on Thunder III unless you need Firestarter for Astral refresh.

 

Fire II on AoE?

In most cases, fine with just skipping. Very slight gains if you don’t have any utility skills up.

 

Macros

Most important one:

/micon “Aetherial Manipulation”

/ac “Aetherial Manipulation” <mo>

 

How difficult is BLM to play at a basic and advanced skill level?

The basic rotation of BLM is very straightforward. It’s easy to pick up, and you can do decent numbers just with the standard rotation without any optimization. Advanced gameplay consists well-executed uptime and mana management (being able to foresee upcoming mechanics, casting and Thunder).

 

What are some beginner tips for a new BLM?

Always be casting. If you don’t see the castbar on your screen and you didn’t just use an instant ability, find out what you can do to reduce that movement or clipping. Record your gameplay, see where your GCD is not running, and do your best to fix them. Good BLM gameplay comes from very tiny adjustments and tricks that end up giving you a lot of extra damage. It takes time to understand and get the feel for all the tiny nuances, so practice makes perfect. Getting the feel and knowledge on when you can cast one more ability is the essence of getting the most out of this job.

 

Ending Thoughts

Thanks for taking in the time to go through my guide! It was fun to write and while confirming through a couple of things it made me learn some new things as well. Thanks to the Black Mage community and the people who helped me in making this guide, as well as the Moogle Post for giving the opportunity to publish one for the magazine. In 4.0 the job flows very well and does a consistent stream of damage, even during the Umbral Ice phase with the addition of Foul.  Every slight bit of movement that you can still optimize and the feel of “I could’ve done this better” seems to last even after dozens of kills on a fight, which makes optimizing the job feel rewarding.

I also think that the Black Mage is a job that might not appeal to anyone, apart from procs the rotation is very fixed and if you’re a player that likes to move a lot or have a sense of “constant action”, the Black Mage might not be for you, as it is more of a “pre-emptive thinking” style of job. You also need good timing abilities to be able to successfully manage your uptime, slidecasting and to not clip your GCD, by using all the tools that are available. If this guide encouraged you to pick up the job, I hope you enjoy the journey in finding out all the little intricacies that it offers, those which are definitely more than meets the eye.

Mentions: Kairi, Laqi, Taco, DialaceStarvy, Alayna, Harold, and the rest of the Black Mage Community, Claire, Ludi, Theoryjerks team, The Moogle Post staff, and everyone else who helped me in confirming various things regarding this guide.

That is all! Thanks for reading!

-Rai Geki / Dworim

Sources and References

Astral Fire: https://ffxiv.consolegameswiki.com/wiki/Astral_Fire

Job Guide – Black Mage: http://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/jobguide/blackmage/

FFXIV Rotations.com: http://ffxivrotations.com/

Alayna Lazriel’s BLM Guide: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iws0GeBJv2fJLJOJX4TyywPy6f0x_eR5uHMC8EiyGLI/edit#

Black Mage Openers and Data: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1I-e9nCBLUyzCxBVEgLjRkGo-dqfGXoEcnSCscj42HxA/edit#gid=364685182

Black Mage Sanctuary: http://forum.square-enix.com/ffxiv/threads/246796-Black-Mage-Sanctuary-A-Guide-to-DPS/page291

Universal GCD Calculator: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1SvOodOkfeOkOyA8b-FnJRDrLl-1KQIvGhOk4BnWZXG8/edit#gid=0

lv70 Statistic Intervals: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Y6wP1rq0b-3Oh45Oo1slFQGyKUqrkfGYk5TjNandLqE/edit#gid=782468133

Secondary Stat Scaling: https://puu.sh/wEbY7/3730e4a499.png

BLM 4.0 Things: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1lkMFYak8ik8Eh4Rxzt9r97yukmbXV1F2BxDttiFnz-I/edit#gid=1541235705

Gear Stat Calculation Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ekB-egzV3I4lUSVCnqk7m8nDFc-eRsann5m92nwzbRM/copy

Harold’s Draft Tips – ask him on discord Harold Saxon #1327

How to be a Math Wizard: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xVo00M-L35rdDVhC1SSq6o1UjPUjETQZisV8_tZF8lM/edit

Laqi Thish’s BLM Guide: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jwA4kzXgnHF7gjUxY5E90zOQdyBW1F13MVUTk-aJZY4/edit#

FFXIV Ore Tools / Equipment & Skill Simulator: http://ffxiv.es.exdreams.net/

Black Mage Sanctuary: forum.square-enix.com/ffxiv/threads/246796-Black-Mage-Sanctuary-A-Guide-to-DPS

Taco pps charts: https://puu.sh/wWROy/16b28ab8bd.png

 

FINAL FANTASY is a registered trademark of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.

FINAL FANTASY XIV © 2010 – 2017 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

2 Responses

  1. Glacie La'vondane

    I quite enjoyed the read! I have a deep love for the black mage, and this I hope will encourage folks to play quite a fun class, let alone a rather iconic one. But It is tough as it stands (Assume 4.2 doesn’t change anything.) to validate bringing a black mage due to the lack of Utility and even minor support for other classes! Not that BLM is bad by any means, just means you have to put in the extra mile to prove yourself to folks outside of a static. And honestly, I like that, It shows that the BLM is willing to try and push themselves above and beyond to perform well in Deltascape!

    So Keep your staff in hand and your enemies a light~ And always bring the boom!

    Reply

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