Introduction

Hey guys! You might remember me from my previous 3.X Ninja guide. After changing my main to Dragoon for Stormblood I’ve decided to write a guide for Dragoon with the help of The Moogle Post! This extensive guide will cover all aspects of the Dragoon job, from basic to advanced, as well as my thoughts and opinions on how to play the job as I do. This guide will only cover the PvE aspects of the Dragoon job, since I have no expertise in PvP. Whether you’re a new player, returning player, or even advanced player I hope that this guide will be useful to you!

This guide will touch on Dragoon basics, but the main focus will be on more advanced optimizations of the job. This includes Jump optimization, Nastrond optimization, buff optimization such as Blood for Blood, Dragon Sight, and Battle Litany, uptime optimization, fight specific optimization and more! It is my hope that this guide will improve your understanding of the Dragoon job and, in turn, significantly improve your DPS!

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This guide will be updated regularly

What is the Dragoon?

Dragoon is a melee DPS job released at the launch of FFXIV ARR. Dragoon has a slower GCD than the 3 other melees – Ninja, Monk, and Samurai – but has a multitude of off global cooldown skills you can weave in between their GCDs. Dragoon has less personal DPS potential than Monk and Samurai, but brings more raid utility than either of them. One thing I’ve concluded after playing each melee job is that Dragoon requires a lot of practice and attention to perfect, comparable to Ninja.

Dragoon is a very static job, with the most rigid and linear playstyle of the four melee jobs. You have stringent, extensive combos that must be performed back to back. This makes Dragoon the worst melee job for adapting to different targets. If an add spawns after your Vorpal Thrust combo, for example, you’ll have to wait 5 GCDs (12.5s) before you can apply your piercing debuff to the new target (at which point it may or may not even be worth it, depending on the HP of the target). While Dragoons are the least capable of adapting to different targets, they have the most versatility when it comes to movement. Dragoons have Elusive Jump, Spineshatter Dive, and Dragonfire Dive. While the latter two aren’t usually used due to the superior effectiveness of Elusive Jump, they still provide additional options that can be used to increase mobility when necessary.

With introductions aside let us start the guide!

 

 

Skill and Abilities

Weaponskills

 Heavy Thrust – Delivers an attack with a potency of 140 (180 from the flank). Additional Effect: Increases damage dealt by 15%. Duration: 30s.

 

 True Thrust – Delivers an attack with a potency of 150.

 

 Vorpal Thrust – Used after True Thrust, delivers an attack with a potency of 240.

 

 Full Thrust – Used after Vorpal Thrust, delivers a 440 potency attack. Your hardest hitting ability raw.

 

 Fang and Claw – Used after Full Thrust (Wheeling Thrust if under Lance Mastery) and delivers an attack with a potency of 250/350 (290/390 from the flank). Extends your BotD by 10 seconds. Can only be used when under the effects of Blood of the Dragon and Sharper Fang and Claw.

 Impulse Drive – Delivers an attack with a potency of 190

 

Piercing Talon – Delivers a ranged attack with a potency of 120. Range: 15 yalms.

 

 Disembowel – Used after Impulse Drive, delivers an attack with a potency of 230 and puts a debuff on the target that decreases its piercing resistance by 5% for 30 seconds.’

 Chaos Thrust – Used after Disembowel, delivers an attack with a potency of 230 (270 from the rear) that also does damage over time for 35 potency for 30 seconds (620 potency). The strongest ability in your arsenal.

 Wheeling Thrust – Used after Chaos Thrust (Fang and Claw if under Lance Mastery) and delivers an attack with a potency of 250/350 (290/390 from the rear). Extends your BotD by 10 seconds. Can only be used when under the effects of Blood of the Dragon and Enhanced Wheeling Thrust.

 Doom Spike – Delivers an attack with a potency of 130 to all enemies in a straight line before you.

 

 Sonic Thrust – Used after Doom Spike, Delivers an attack with a potency of 170 to all enemies in a straight line before you. Also extends BotD duration by 10 seconds.

 

 

Abilities

 Life Surge – Ensures critical damage for first weaponskill used while Life Surge is active. Damage dealt will be absorbed as HP, up to 10% of maximum HP. Duration: 10s. Recast: 50s.

 Blood for Blood – Increases damage dealt by 15% and damage suffered by 10%. Duration: 20s. Recast: 80s.

 

 Battle Litany – Increases critical hit rate by 15% for you and all nearby party members. Duration: 20s. Range: 15y. Recast: 180s.

 

 Dragon Sight – Grants Right Eye to self and Left Eye to target party member, increasing your damage dealt by 10% and the target party member’s damage dealt by 5%, as long as they remain within 12y. Duration: 20s. Recast: 120s.

 Blood of the Dragon – Increases the potency of Jump and Spineshatter Dive by 30%. Duration: 20s, but can be extended by 10s by using Fang and Claw, Wheeling Thrust, or Sonic Thrust, up to a maximum of 30 seconds.

 Jump – Delivers a jumping attack with a potency of 250 (325 under BotD) on a 30 second cooldown. Jumps from the position you are at and returns you to your original position after the attack is made. Grants Dive Ready which enables the use of one Mirage Dive.

 Spineshatter Dive – Delivers an attack with a potency of 200 (260 under BotD). Jumps to the target (does not return you to your original position) and also stuns the target and grants Dive Ready which enables the use of one Mirage Dive.

 Dragonfire Dive – Delivers an attack with a potency of 300 to all nearby enemies in a circular radius of 5y. Has a recast time of 120 seconds.

 

 Mirage Dive – Delivers an attack with a potency of 200. Strengthens the gauge of your Blood of the Dragon by 1 (need 4 to enter LotD). Can only be used under the effects of Dive Ready.

 

 Geirskogul – Delivers an attack with a potency of 220 to all enemies in a straight line up to 15y. Has a recast time of 35 seconds. Changes BotD to LotD when used after obtaining 4 eyes and turns itself into Nastrond when under the effects of LotD.

 Nastrond – Delivers an attack with a potency of 320 to all enemies in a straight line up to 15y. Has a recast time of 10 seconds. Ability reverts back to Geirskogul after LotD ends.

 

Note: Jump, Spineshatter Dive, and Dragonfire Dive all have very long animation locks. This means you must use them on their own (do not double weave) or else you will clip your GCD greatly!

 

Role Actions

We’ll use a star system to describe the necessity of each ability as well as going over which abilities you should bring to what fight.

 

*** = Mandatory, ** =  Useful, * = Situational, X = worthless

 

 *** Second Wind – Instantly restores your HP with a potency of 500. Recast: 120s. Cure potency varies with current attack power. A must have in a raiding scenario.

 * Arms Length – Nullifies all knockback and draw in effects for 5 seconds. Recast: 60s. Good in some raids.

 

 X Leg Sweep – Stuns target for 3 seconds. Recast: 40s. Garbage.

 

 *** Diversion – Reduces enmity generation for 15 seconds. Recast: 120s.  A must have in a raiding scenario.

 

 ** Invigorate – Instantly restores 400 TP. Recast: 120s. Useful but not needed. For testing I ran all four savage turns without invigorate and didn’t run out of TP at all.

 

 *** Bloodbath – Converts 25% of the physical damage you deal into HP. Duration: 20s. Recast: 90s. A must have, and a life saver in raids.

 

 * Goad – Refreshes 400 TP of a single party member over the course of 30 seconds. Recast: 180s.

 

 * Feint – Lowers target’s strength and dexterity by 10% for 10s. Pretty good for progression and speed runs/optimization.

 

 *** True North – Nullifies all action directional requirements. Recast: 180s. Need I say more? An absolute must-have.

 

 X Crutch – Removes Bind and Heavy from target party member other than self. Recast: 90s. Trash.

 

O1 Savage – Second Wind, Bloodbath, True North, Diversion, (your pick)

O2 Savage – Second Wind, Bloodbath, True North, Diversion, (your pick)

O3 Savage – Second Wind, Bloodbath, True North, Diversion, Feint/(your pick)

O4 Savage (Exdeath) – Second Wind, Bloodbath, True North, Arms Length, (your pick)

O4 Savage (Neo Exdeath) – Second Wind, Bloodbath, Diversion, Feint, Invigorate

 

Openers, Rotations and Priorities

Openers

This is where Dragoon differs from it’s 3.X counterpart the most, in my opinion. Dragoon has a number of different variations in their openers. You can either weave Geirskogul with Mirage Dive after Wheeling Thrust, or weave Geirskogul in with Life Surge before Full Thrust. I’ll present a number of different openers and discuss the pros and cons of each. These openers are made with the mindset of achieving maximum damage for yourself and party members. Some things to note about all of these openers is: Blood of the Dragon is always used pre-pull, potion will always affect the 2nd Chaos Thrust, Jump and Spineshatter Dive are interchangeable, Geirskogul can either be placed after Wheeling Thrust or before Full Thrust.

 

Standard Opener (Fey Wind/Arrow)

Standard Opener (No Fey Wind)

The most optimal opener for personal DPS as well as my favorite opener. Blood for Blood and Dragon Sight will be shifted back 1 GCD later on in the rotation. Can never go wrong with this opener use it in pugs/raids. The difference between the standard opener with Fey Wind and the one without is that the one without Fey Wind has Dragon Sight switched with Battle Litany. This nets you 9 GCDs (Affecting ID to FC) while losing a GCD (ID) under Battle Litany. This is because with no Fey Wind to support your GCD then you will not get 9 GCDs under DS. The big thing to note here is that no one benefits from an early BL so depending on GCD speed some classes may get an extra GCD under it. This is the closest we can get to maximizing raid DPS without sacrificing our personal DPS.

Even if you have Fey Wind you’re not guaranteed 9 GCDs under DS using it after Impulse Drive. If this is the case then do the Standard Opener (No Fey Wind). However having the Arrow in your opener will guarantee those 9 GCDs. This was tested at a 2.41 GCD (2.34 GCD under Fey Wind). Anything below (2.44, 2.47) has even less chances of hitting the 9 GCDs. So test accordingly.

Pros of a Standard Opener

  • Highest burst out of all the openers
  • Highest sustain out of all the openers
  • Easy rotation for beginners to learn
  • Blood for Blood hits 2nd 5th tier combo

Cons of a Standard Opener

  • Trades raid DPS for personal DPS
  • Rotation can get wonky at higher skill speeds

 

rDPS Opener

Delays the cast of Dragon Sight and Battle Litany to better align with other job’s buffs. Blood for Blood is used after Heavy Thrust instead of double weaving with potion so you get 9 GCDs under its effect. Other openers have you double weaving Blood for Blood + Potion, for whatever reason, and this forces clipping and the loss of a GCD under BfB. There are some factors when dealing with the buff windows with this opener that you should be aware of. If using BL > DS makes it so your 2nd DS doesn’t come up before FT or forces you to clip then doing DS > BL will be better and vice versa. This can be due to a variety of reasons like Fey Wind, Arrow, or just being at a high Skill Speed tier.

Pros of a rDPS Opener

  • Higher DPS raidwide
  • Synergizes well with party members
  • Gets stronger the more raid utility there is
  • More fluid rotation later on

Cons of a rDPS Opener

  • Trades personal DPS for raid DPS
  • Blood for Blood doesn’t affect 2nd 5th tier combo
  • Harder to learn and maximize
  • Requires knowledge of other classes to maximize DPS

 

No Pot Opener

The “I’m too poor for pots” opener.

Pros of a No-Pot Opener

  • Able to achieve high raid DPS without sacrificing personal DPS

Cons of a No-Pot Opener

  • No potion

 

Skill Combos

Dragoons have three basic combos.

Full Thrust Combo: True Thrust > Vorpal Thrust > Full Thrust > Fang and Claw > Wheeling Thrust
This combo deals straight potency and is your hardest hitting combo in terms of raw potency. Use this combo when Disembowel and Chaos Thrust are affecting the target.

Chaos Thrust Combo: Impulse Drive > Disembowel > Chaos Thrust > Wheeling Thrust > Fang and Claw
Less initial potency than the Full Thrust combo, but higher in total potency once you factor in the DoT component. Also applies a Piercing Resistance down debuff on the target. You always want to prioritize this combo if Disembowel or Chaos Thrust is not on the target.

Sonic Thrust Combo: Doom Spike > Sonic Thrust
This combo is mostly used during AoE situations however still serves a purpose in single target PvE content. Sonic Thrust is a 2 GCD combo that refreshes your BotD by 10 seconds. This means that if you’re at risk of dropping BotD and won’t be able to complete a CT or FT combo in time, you can use this 2 move combo to extend it. While it delivers a lot less potency than the other combos, you lose even more potency if you drop BotD.

Heavy Thrust. While not a combo you use this skill after every 2 combo rotations. Think of it as a Blood for Blood you can keep up forever.

 

Basic Rotation

Dragoons have a fairly basic and very linear rotation. Your rotation will more or less never change and will always alternate between the Full Thrust combo and the Chaos Thrust combo while using Heavy Thrust after every 2nd combo rotation – which will almost always be before your Chaos Thrust combo.

Here’s what your basic rotation will look like:

[HT > ID > DM > CT > WT > FC > TT > VT > FT > FC > WT] > [HT > ID > DM > CT > WT > FC > TT > VT > FT > FC > WT] > [HT > ID > DM > CT > WT > FC > TT > VT > FT > FC > WT] >  [HT > ID > DM > CT > WT > FC > TT > VT > FT > FC > WT]

Told you the rotation was linear! Once we get into oGCD management things get a little more complex, however. What was once a basic linear rotation is now a button mashing mess!

Here’s what a more advanced rotation will look like when we include oGCDs:

BoTD Prepull > [HT > DVN + BL > ID > DS + B4B > DM > Pot > CT > Jump > WT > MD + GSK > FC > DFD > TT > SSD > VT > LS + MD > FT > FC > WT] > [HT > ID > DM > CT > WT > FC > Jump > TT > MD > VT > FT > GSK > FC > WT] > [HT > ID > DM > CT > WT > FC > TT > VT > LS > FT > Jump > FC > MD > WT > SSD] > [HT > GSK + NS > ID > B4B > DM > MD > CT > WT > FC > NS > TT > VT > FT > FC > Jump > WT > NS + MD]

A lot different huh? But don’t worry if it looks intimidating just remember at the basic level it’s just two combos alternating while weaving in your oGCDs as soon as they come off cooldown.

 

Priority System

While Dragoon’s main rotation is very linear, they do also follow a priority system of sorts. It’s a short list, but it’s VERY important that you keep these valuable buffs up at all times.

  • Keep Heavy Thrust up at all times
  • Keep Disembowel/Chaos Thrust up at all times
  • Keep Blood of the Dragon up at all times
  • Full Thrust combo when not using Chaos Thrust combo

 

Buff Priority System

In terms of PPS, you want to use the buffs in a priority system as follows:

  • Blood for Blood
  • Dragon Sight
  • Battle Litany
  • Potion

 

 

DPS Optimization

Aligning Cooldowns

Cooldown optimization is one of the trickier parts of optimizing your DPS, as it requires keen knowledge of the fight, your job, and good communication with your teammates. I’m going to discuss what I feel is the right way to handle your buffs, which revolves around getting an extra buff vs lining it up with outside buffs like Trick Attack, Hypercharge, and Balance.

On a basic level, I believe you should always try to use your Blood for Blood before Disembowel or after Vorpal Thrust. This ensures that you will get both your Chaos Thrust and Full Thrust under the BfB window while also ensuring you get two 5th Tier combos under its effect, as well. Using the buff priority system I mentioned above, if you are using Dragon Sight or Battle Litany alone you should aim to use them before Disembowel or after Vorpal Thrust, as well. When using them together, however, things get a little more complicated. A general rule you always want to follow is ‘Get 9 GCDs under your damage boosting abilities’, but when we are forced to double weave these skills one of them will only be able to buff 8 GCDs. In this situation, double weave Battle Litany first, as it is the weaker damage increasing cooldown compared to DS and BfB.

In a zero downtime scenario you should be able to get 2 Nastronds and a Jump in each Blood for Blood window. In each Dragon Sight window you should be able to get a Dragonfire Dive, Spineshatter Dive, Jump as well as 2 Mirage Dives. Now let’s talk about the ugly stepchild that is known as Battle Litany! Remember how Battle Litany is on a 3 minute cooldown? This puts us in a predicament as almost every other damage increasing cooldown (Dragon Sight, Hypercharge, Inner Release, Embolden, etc…) is on a 2 minute timer. I’ll go more indepth into the usage of Battle Litany later but for now you can either a) Use on cooldown or b) use with your 2nd Dragon Sight and 4th Blood for Blood.

 

Aligning Cooldowns: Example

I’m going to use O1S as an example, as it is the savage fight that the most people are familiar with. For this example I will be using a kill time of 5:30. With this kill time in mind we know that we’ll get a maximum of 6 Trick Attacks, 4 Blood for Bloods, 4 Brotherhoods, 2 Battle Litanys, 2 Battle Voices, and 3 Dragon Sights, Chain Strategems, Emboldens, and Hypercharges, as well as 2 potions. Assuming we get each buff off once in the opener that leaves us with one less of each. Since we can only use Battle Litany and Battle Voice one more time we should save it for our 2nd potion window. Now all we have to worry about is Blood for Blood, 2 minute cooldowns, and Trick Attacks. The fight may end at 5:30 but our big burst starts around 4:45. That leaves us with 40 seconds of wiggle room for our 2 minute cooldowns. Due to the nature of most classes 60/120 abilities there is no real merit in holding them as they line up with everyones 2 minute burst windows as well as Trick Attack at 2:12. We want to get our last Blood for Blood off at around 4:35 at least so that gives us 30 seconds of wiggle room to use our 3rd Blood for Blood. You should use this before your Disembowel at 2:50 so it catches your Jump + Geriskogul and 2 Nastronds. To line up the last Trick Attack with everyone’s 2nd opener the Ninja can use Raiton instead of Suiton at 4:20 and use TCJ to setup the Suiton he will use to Trick Attack at 4:45.

The only thing left we have to cover is Nastrond usage. In this fight you should use the Late GSK opener as it lines up Geirskoguls nicely in each Blood for Blood while not losing a cast overall in the fight. You want to hold your 8th Geiskogul to set up your LotD window. To do this without loss however you need to make sure you use your 7th Geirskogul before you use the Mirage Dive that’ll grant you your 4th eye. If you do not do this you have to either go into your LotD early or hold GSK, losing a usage over the encounter.

I hope this explains my thought process behind cooldown management. I basically just look at where we want bursts during specific parts of the fight and adjust accordingly.

 

Geirskogul and Nastrond Optimization

Geirskogul is kind of tricky when it comes to maximizing its usage. The skill itself has a cooldown of 35 seconds, while Jump, Spineshatter Dive, and Blood for Blood are 30/60/80 respectively. This can create a rather unsettling situation for newcomers. Do you hold your Geirskogul for your Blood for Blood window? How do you use your 5th Mirage Dive? Do you use your jumps on cooldown? These are all questions that you may ask.

First things first let’s map out Jumps and Geirskogul usage. We can see that at the most basic level we should be able to use Geirskogul as soon as it comes off cooldown, which lets us enter LotD as early as possible.

click to enlarge

And here’s where things get complicated! Life of the Dragon and Blood for Blood – two powerful buffs on different timers. Think of your LotD window as having a 70 second cooldown, since it takes 2 Geirskoguls to reach, which is 10 seconds shorter than the 80 second recast on Blood for Blood. This is where the Late GSK opener really shines, as each BfB window will consist of one Geirskogul and 2 Nastronds, compared to the Early GSK opener where Geirskogul isn’t buffed from Blood for Blood until the 7th GSK. You should always use Blood for Blood during or before your life cycle for maximum benefits.

The maximum number of Nastronds you can get off per cycle is 3, and you should ALWAYS try to get 2 of them off under each Blood for Blood window. You can enter LotD at as low as 22 seconds on your Blood of the Dragon timer but you risk losing a GCD due to clipping or risk losing a cast of Nastrond. Entering LotD when your timer is 25 seconds or more is the safer bet.

Now let’s get into the fun stuff! Remember earlier during the cooldown alignment section where I talked about using your Geirskogul before you get your 4th eye to push your LotD window back 35 seconds to line up with your second opener? This is a good tactic in O1S and O2S where you can reach your 2nd pot opener window without losing a usage of Geirskogul. Do note, however, that if you lose a cycle of Nastrond by delaying your 3rd LotD window by 35-40 seconds or lose a usage of Blood for Blood, Dragon Sight, or Battle Litany because you held them for your 4:30 potion then it is not worth aligning them with it until later on into the fight.

You can also use your LotD window as an extended timer of sorts, as once you enter it, it refreshes your timer to 20 (or 20+ if you use Geirskogul above 20 seconds) and sets your BotD timer to 20 once the timer runs out. We can use this to our advantage in Susano EX. What we do is hold our Nastrond window for the sword by using the tip described above and use Geirskogul before you gain your 4th eye. This will make it so that your Geirskogul will come up right as the sword comes down then enter your LotD window using 2 Nastronds on the sword. After this, your Life window will run out and you will have 20 seconds on your Blood gauge. Pop your Blood of the Dragon before the Sword comes down so it’s up when he comes back and you will have a full burst with Blood for Blood, Dragon Sight, Battle Litany, and Nastrond up a little after he becomes targetable again.

There’s another level of optimization you can do with LotD and that’s using Mirage Dive when you already have 4 Eyes in your gauge. Now I know some of you may be like “What? Isn’t that bad?” The answer is yes, under normal circumstances, however there are certain situations where doing so can be a DPS gain, such as the Susano example described above. Now, let’s look at O3S as an additional example. If you take your 5th eye (the Mirage Dive after your 2nd Spineshatter Dive) and use it, wasting the eye you would have gained, and hold Geirskogul until after the briar tethers this lines up your LotD with each set of adds that spawn, potentially netting you one Nastrond on the White Flame, two Nastronds on the Great Dragon, and three Nastronds on the Apanda, while also hitting the boss in each of these scenarios. Another scenario where eating an eye would be a gain is in O4S. If you eat your 5th Eye this lines up your Nastrond with the Meteors that spawn.

 

Jump Optimization

Let’s talk about Jumps. More specifically, the abilities known as Spineshatter Dive and Jump. Back in 3.X we ALWAYS did Jump first. This was because it was our highest potency per second move, especially under Power Surge, and because after the 4th GCD was the most optimal placement for Trick Attack. Now with 4.0 Power Surge is gone and optimal Trick Attack placement has been moved back to 5th GCD. But there’s a problem – at optimal skill speed levels (512-982) if you use Jump after Chaos Thrust your Jump will not be buffed by Trick Attack, Embolden, or Brotherhood. Another issue with using Jump first is that you will be sitting on your 3rd Jump for once GCD as it comes off cooldown right before your Life Surged Full Thrust. This also puts Spineshatter Dive in an awkward predicament as it is also pushed back 1 GCD. However, when we change up the opener to Chaos Thrust > Spineshatter Dive > Wheeling Thrust > Mirage Dive > Fang and Claw > Jump it seems to fix all of our problems later on in the rotation. Our 2nd Usage of Spineshatter Dive comes up right after True Thrust. If we were to reverse the situation, Jump wouldn’t come off cooldown until 3/4ths of our True Thrust GCD forcing us to hold it or clip our GCD greatly. Since we used Spineshatter before our Life Surge we can now weave Mirage Dive with Life Surge and use Jump as soon as it comes off cooldown after Fang and Claw, making it so we don’t lose a GCD worth of time on either skill. We can also look even deeper into our rotation, more specifically the 2 minute mark, where we pop Dragon Sight. Normally you’d have to wait a GCD or two before you could get off your Spineshatter Dive here, but if you change it around and do Spineshatter first in the opener the issue is resolved.

This isn’t to say that Spineshatter is the go-to always use first ability. There are a bunch of problems with using it first. I’ll go more in depth later in the section, but one of the big ones will be timings for most people. The Blood for Blood windows and overall rotation will be more strict.

Assuming we have a party composition of DRG, NIN, RDM, BRD, AST, and SCH, the difference between using Spineshatter first and getting Jump in Track is a monumental potency gain. Using Jump after Fang and Claw and combining it with the raid buffs of the aforementioned jobs puts Jump at a potency of 651.5. Using Spineshatter Dive after Fang and Claw puts it at a potency of 521.2. A pretty significant difference. However, this does come with problems, and each use of these abilities have their own merits. For example, in a 3:30 rotation you use Spineshatter first as it ensures you get Jump, DFD, SSD, and two MDs under BfB + DS + BL in the final segment. In a 5:00 rotation you use Jump rather than Spineshatter as you’re holding onto Spineshatter till the end of the encounter. Using Jump first has some merit but still has flaws. Some of the benefits of using Jump first include getting future Jumps under each Blood for Blood, potentially getting an extra Jump in the fight, as well as having a better flow of rotation. Some issues with using Jump first include not getting your 1st Jump under certain raid buffs and being forced to hold it a short while as it comes up mid-GCD and would cause clipping. Merits of Spineshatter Diving first are getting your 1st Jump under all raid buffs and doesn’t cause jumps to come up mid-GCD and cause clipping. The problems with using Spineshatter first are that some of your future Jumps are not buffed by Blood for Blood, Jump is delayed a GCD at 3:50, overall harder rotation to pull off with BfB timings, Jump timings, and overall rotation flow AND you risk losing a potential jump over the course of a fight.

Side by Side comparison

 

Early GSK vs Late GSK

One of the harder things to optimize on Dragoon is Geirskogul usage, and having to choose between using Geirskogul earlier or later doesn’t help. If you are new to the class and are reading this section then do Geirskogul earlier in the opener. The difference is very minimal, but using Geriskogul later takes significantly more planning and skill to execute. In the Early GSK opener your Geirskoguls are not buffed by Blood for Blood aside from uses 1 and 7. In the Late GSK opener Geirskoguls 1, 3, 5, and 7 are buffed by Blood for Blood. The difference is dependent on fight time and whether or not you lose a usage of Geirskogul, and this requires keen knowledge of the fights duration. If you can actually coordinate your GSK with other raid buffs then the Late GSK opener can be a potency gain due to the way multipliers work. This would be better than gaining an extra usage of the skill (220 potency) and becomes even stronger if you can coordinate and NOT lose a usage overall. This is because buffs are multiplicative and the more buffs that are affecting your skills the higher the multiplier will be.

Below is a list of encounter durations and the corresponding opener that will perform best. This assumes 100% uptime and NO raid buffs. Starting at 3:00 and every minute thereafter the Early GSK opener is superior, while every :30 the Late GSK will be better, as these fight durations do not result in an extra skill usage.

3:00 – Early GSK
3:30 – Late GSK
4:00 – Early GSK
4:30 – Late GSK
5:00 – Early GSK
5:30 – Late GSK
6:00 – Early GSK

 

Multi Target AoE

When faced with two or more targets you can do a Chaos Thrust combo on the second target where you would normally do a Full Thrust combo, and keep switching back and forth with each Chaos Thrust combo. This is a potency gain over your normal rotation of: CT > FT > CT > FT.

An example of what this looks like is:

Target 1: [HT > ID > DM > CT > WT > FC > ID]

Target 2: [DM > CT > WT > FC > HT > ID]

From here you need to decide if it’s better to re-apply Chaos Thrust onto a target or use Full Thrust instead.

When faced with three or more targets you have a basic rotation of: Doom Spike > Sonic Thrust > Doom Spike > Sonic Thrust > Doom Spike > Sonic Thrust.

Pretty complicated, right? Just weave in your oGCDs like Blood for Blood, Jump, Spineshatter Dive, and Dragonfire Dive while using your Mirage Dives as soon as you get them and build your gauge until you finally unload your Nastrond on them.

Now let’s talk about oGCD AoE usage. If using an oGCD skill frees up a GCD for another player, letting them use that GCD on the boss is more boss damage than them having to waste GCDs on the additional target(s). Think of it as effective damage, as it’s the equivalent of dealing double or triple the damage. If holding a oGCD AoE skill allows you to hit 2-3 targets in less than the cooldown of the skill then the delay will almost always be worth it (unless you need those skills for a particular reason, such as burst phases). In O4S you HAVE to kill the meteors. They are targets that are part of a DPS check that must be met. Using Nastrond and Dragonfire Dive to free up weaponskills or spells on those targets will be more overall raid DPS than not using them in this situation.

The Dragoon oGCD AoE arsenal is small but power-packed. We have Geirskogul, Nastrond, and Dragonfire Dive. Let’s talk about Dragonfire Dive first. Dragonfire Dive is a very strong single target ability that can also be used for AoE. Dragonfire Dive is one of the stronger AoE abilities in the game as it does not have diminishing returns on additional targets like many other AoE skills. Holding this ability so it can hit multiple targets will usually be a DPS gain, but this isn’t always the case. The criteria you need to consider is whether or not the delay will cost you a use of the skill over the course of the fight, and how many additional targets you’ll be able to hit if you do delay. For example, two single-target Dragonfire Dives under piercing debuff is more potency than a single Dragonfire Dive on two targets when only one has the piercing debuff (this is also under the assumption that your last Dragonfire Dive isn’t under all your buffs, which it should be). However, if delaying the use of DFD will allow you to hit 3 or more targets, then it will almost always be worth it, even if it results in one less total use of DFD over the course of the fight.

Unlike the center AoE of Dragonfire Dive, Geirskogul and Nastrond are straight-line AoEs with a range of 15y, making them a lot more versatile to use. These AoEs also have no diminishing returns on additional targets. You can use these abilities by either aiming at the add from the boss or tab target the add while standing in the boss’s hitbox. For the latter you risk losing potential auto attacks from switching targets AND it can be difficult tabbing back over to the boss if there are multiple targets. This makes the former option the preferred method. Lining up these abilities with adds will likely result in an overall DPS gain, assuming the adds they are being used on are part of a DPS check and have to die to continue the fight. Some examples of optimal use include the White Flame, Great Dragon, and Apanda adds in O3S, and the Meteors in O4S.

Keep in mind that while Dragoon AoE is strong, and can be optimal at times, this is not always the case (think A9S and A12S). Sometimes it is more efficient for a Ninja or Monk or any other DPS job to use their AoE oGCDs on the adds instead, while you get your skills under buffs or just on the boss for more damage.

 

Skill Speed

Back in 3.X Dragoons wanted a certain amount of Skill Speed so we could comfortably use 3 Geirskoguls every 60 seconds, but in Stormblood the old design of BotD has been thrown away, and this is no longer the case. At a bare minimum you want enough Skill Speed so you can hit 9 GCDs under Blood for Blood, Dragon Sight, and Battle Litany. You are able to hit 9 GCDs under your buffs at as low as 521 Skill Speed, but if you clip even the slightest bit your buffs will drop off before you get the 9th GCD in. This will vary from person to person as everyone has different ping. If you clip just slightly maybe being around 712 Skill Speed putting you at a 2.44 GCD will be beneficial. If you don’t clip at all you might be able to get away with using the 521 set. As long as you don’t go over 981 you should be okay. Anything above 981 puts you at a GCD tier of 2.40 which can make things wonky later on in the rotation. It’s also worth mentioning the difference between the 521 and 717 SKS set is as small as 0.1%. It’s that insignificant. The only things that matter are being able to hit 9 GCDs under your buffs and being at a SkS tier you are comfortable with. I’m personally running the 717 BiS as I clip my GCDs slightly sometimes and I prefer the breathing room.

Also something to note is that if melding Skill Speed puts you at the next GCD tier then it is ultimately more worth melding that SKS as it’s more of a DPS increase. A prime example would be the 512 SKS BiS (http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/12FHU). You meld Skill Speed onto the boots where as you would lose a Determination meld. This ends up being an overall gain.

Here is a video detailing Skill Speed interactions

 

Advanced Tips

Chaos Thrust or Full Thrust?

Let’s say an add spawns halfway through an encounter – which combo would you do? Thankfully, I have the answer! Chaos Thrust combo without counting the DoT gives us a potency of 1630.125 (190(ID)+230(DM)+(270(CT)+290(WT)+390(FC))1.05 * 1.15). The potency of a Full Thrust combo is 1736.5 (150(TT)+240(VT)+440(FT)+290(FC)+390(WT)1.15). This is a much bigger difference than in Heavenward, when there was only a difference of 7 potency (CT=1143, FT=1150). This is mainly due to the buffs to the Full Thrust combo. For Chaos Thrust to be a potency gain over Full Thrust, the Chaos Thrust DoT has to tick at least 4 times (12 seconds). However, if you have a ranged physical DPS in the party (MCH or BRD) having them use even one weaponskill would change 4 ticks down to 3 ticks, as the difference in potency after 3 ticks of Chaos Thrust is only -13.

Now how about we throw in a twist? Let’s say a boss is phase changing or dying on your Wheeling Thrust. Which combo do you prioritize? This one is more of an obvious answer… Full Thrust! Full Thrust in this situation has a potency of 1905.9 ((150+240+440+290)*1.05 + 390*1.15 +105). Why so much higher than before? This is because Disembowel should already be on the boss and will drop after your Fang and Claw. Another quick note before we look at Chaos Thrust is that the DoT from CT will still be ticking until after your Wheeling Thrust, so we need to keep that in mind! Let’s see how Chaos Thrust compares now, Chaos Thrust in this situation has a potency of 1689.275 ((190+230+270+290+390)*1.05*1.1 + 35).  Now let’s say the boss doesn’t die. What then? You already dropped your Disembowel and Chaos Thrust, so do you go into your Full Thrust combo or do you Chaos Thrust? Well… Let’s look at the math. We have a potency of 1905.9 vs 1689.275. That’s a big lead from Full Thrust already but if were to do a whole rotation of the respected skills listed we would find that Full Thrust has a potency of 3,642.4 and Chaos Thrust has a potency of 3,343.55. Chaos Thrust still seems to have trouble squeezing out that extra potency to beat Full Thrust but what if the boss STILL isn’t dead? Well Chaos Thrust would need 8 ticks (24s) to reach a total potency of 3,651.55 which would put it ahead of Full Thrust!

Dropping Heavy Thrust

Normally you should NEVER drop Heavy Thrust, but there are very situational times where doing this can be a DPS gain, such as when a boss is dying and you can get off an extra Full Thrust or 5th Tier Wheeling Thrust. Take Exdeath as an example, before his first decisive battle you can drop your Heavy Thrust to get in an extra 5th Tier GCD. This nets you an additional 60.75 potency! 5th Tier – HT (((150+240)*1.15 + 440 + 290 + 390)*1.05 = 1630.5 potency) vs HT – 5th Tier ((180 + 150 + 240 + 440 + 290)*1.15*1.05 = 1569.75 potency). Note that dropping Heavy Thrust is only ever worth it when using a Full Thrust combo after dropping it.

Eye Management

If you speed kill or do optimized clears one of the main things you’re measuring for is how many eyes you will get in the estimated clear time you are aiming for. The amount of eyes needed to enter LotD is four, and sometimes you’ll end up with a number less than that, whether it be 1 or 3. What can we do with this information? Well, we want to maximize these – let’s say 3 – Mirage Dives. As long as they don’t push back our important LotD segments then we can use them anywhere. This means the most worthwhile spots to use them would be during Trick Attack or similar buff windows.


Using Sonic Thrust on a Boss

While not particularly useful most of the time, it does have its moments. If you know a phase change is coming and/or you’re worried you might drop BotD you can use Doom Spike into Sonic Thrust to extend your Blood timer quickly. Currently this doesn’t have much use outside of Neo Exdeath, but it might be more relevant in future tiers!

 

Buff Optimization

Battle Litany

Battle Litany is a 3 minute cooldown that increases your critical hit percent by 15% for 20 seconds – roughly a 7.5% damage increase on paper. How you use this skill will differentiate you from other Dragoons. While it is not the most powerful cooldown you have for personal DPS it is the most powerful for raid DPS, and should be used in a way that benefits your party as much as possible. We have a variety of options available when it comes to using Battle Litany.

We can save it until 4 minutes into an encounter to achieve maximum PPS by lining it up with Dragon Sight, Blood for Blood, Trick Attack and any other 60 second interval cooldowns. Doing this is only worth it if you don’t lose a usage over the course of the fight.

We can use it on cooldown. While less effective on a per-use basis, if doing this gains an extra use over the course of a fight then it is 100% worth it. Lines up with Trick Attack and any other 60/180 second interval cooldown.

We use it at specific times depending on the party’s cooldowns and coordination. Take O1 Savage for example. You want to use Battle Litany at 4:40 when it lines up with everyone’s planned bursts. ALWAYS PRIORITIZE RAID DPS OVER PERSONAL DPS!

Piercing Debuff

One of the main reasons to bring a Dragoon to a raid is the 5% piercing debuff applied when using Disembowel. If this ever falls off you are doing it wrong! And you aren’t just hurting yourself, you’re hurting the ranged DPS and Red Mage, as well. Always prioritize putting this up first. Not much else to say about it.

Blood for Blood

Blood for Blood is an 80 second cooldown that increases your damage by 15%. Back in Heavensward this buff was 30% but was nerfed in 4.0. BfB is your strongest personal DPS buff and weakest raid DPS buff. As a general rule this should always be used on cooldown (unless you’ve optimized the fight to the point where you know that delaying it will be a DPS gain). You always want to get 9 GCDs in under Blood for Blood, and have 4 of those 9 GCDs be Full Thrust, Chaos Thrust, and two 5th tier combos. To achieve this you want to use Blood for Blood either before Disembowel or before Full Thrust. You also want to always get 2 Nastronds and a Jump in under each use. If you use this skill while heavy raid damage is going out try to pair it with Bloodbath.

During your Blood for Blood window, if Jump and Nastrond come up at the same time and you have more than 4 seconds left on BfB use Jump and delay your Nastrond use until the following GCD. This let’s you get in Jump, Nastrond, and the Mirage Dive from Jump under BfB, where you would only get Jump and Nastrond under BfB if you use Nastrond first. If you only have 2 seconds or less left on Blood for Blood and have to choose between Jump and Nastrond it’s still best to choose Jump, which is 325 potency, 5 more than Nastrond. If you are confident that it will not cost you a GCD in the fight, then you can make an exception to the earlier rule and double weave Nastrond and Jump to maximize your damage.

Dragon Sight

Dragon Sight is a 2 minute cooldown that increases your damage by 10% and the person you tether to by 5% for 20 seconds. Your 2nd most powerful personal DPS buff and 2nd most powerful raid DPS buff. In a perfect scenario you should be able to get a use of Jump, Spineshatter Dive, Dragonfire Dive and 2 Mirage Dives under it’s window. Aside from the opener you should always treat Dragon Sight the same as you would Blood for Blood, using it halfway through your GCD and before Disembowel/Full Thrust. To achieve Dragon Sights maximum potential you want to tether to a DPS who has a damage increasing cooldown up such as a Bard with Raging Strikes as the percent is applied multiplicatively. Below is the priority system you should give your Dragon Sight to.

Bard (if Raging Strikes) > Monk (if Riddle of Fire) > Red Mage (if Embolden) > MCH (if Wildfire)  > NIN > SAM > BLM > SMN

One thing to note about Dragon Sight is that it does not affect pets. This means that, aside from certain scenarios, it is extremely lackluster on jobs like MCH and SMN.

This priority list does not account for tanks, though. If your Warrior is generally a better overall player than your DPS and is in his Inner Release + Potion window it may be worth giving him the tether in that situation. To check damage output over a specific period of time look at FFlogs.

Life Surge

Life Surge ensures that your next weaponskill is at least a critical hit, and should naturally align with Full Thrust in most of the encounters this raid tier. If this isn’t the case, then you generally want to pair Life Surge with Full Thrust until you lose a usage of it in a fight and otherwise use it on your 5th tier combo to get an extra usage. Let’s say you can get 5 uses of Life Surge saving it for Full Thrust in a fight, that would be FT > FT > FT > FT > FT. However, if you can get 6 uses of Life Surge by using your 5th use of the ability on a 5th tier combo then this will be better than saving it for 5 Full Thrusts. This would look something like FT > FT > FT > FT > 5th > 5th.

Blood of the Dragon

Increases the potency of Jump and Spineshatter Dive while active. When used immediately it puts your Blood gauge at 20. You can use this ability to leave Life of the Dragon early as well as extend your Blood gauge to a theoretical “50” seconds. What I mean by this is that if you go into downtime with 30 seconds remaining on your Blood gauge and use Blood of the Dragon as it reaches 1 it’ll reset the timer back to 20 while keeping all the eyes you’ve acquired. Another way to use Blood of the Dragon is right before your 4th and 5th tier combos before downtime to reach the maximum capacity of time (30). This is useful in O4S right before Grand Cross Omega if you’re at 19 seconds or below.

Feint

This role action lowers the target’s strength and dexterity by 10% for 10 seconds, and is an extremely valuable ability during progression and for speed killing. Proper use of this ability has the potential to free up one or more healer GCDs. Try to communicate with your DPS partners to spread out the available mitigation as much as possible. Some abilities that can be mitigated with Feint are Wyrm Tail in O1S, Erosion, -100G, and Long Drop in O2S, Critical Hit, Saber Dance, and Holy Edge in O3S, Vacuum Wave in Exdeath, Earthshakers, Double Attack, Frenzied Fist, and Frenzied Sphere in Neo Exdeath, and auto attacks.

True North

Nullifies all directional requirements but has a VERY long cooldown. To get the most out of this ability you should coordinate with your tanks and identify spots in fights where hitting positionals would put you in danger. Some optimal uses of this ability include before Downbursts in O1S, the Venn Diagram in O2S, The Game and Folio in O3S, and Vacuum Wave and Black Holes in O4S.

Goad

Restores 400 TP over 30 seconds. No longer a particularly valuable role action due to reductions in TP costs across the board for all jobs in 4.0, which makes it pretty hard to run TP dry. Goad can be useful in fights like O4S and A4S, though, where messing up certain mechanics will drain your TP, or in dungeons where the main focus is AoE globals.

 

 

Uptime Optimization

Uptime” has a fairly straightforward meaning: it is the duration you spend dealing damage to your target. Ideally you want to spend as much time as possible pressing buttons and dealing damage. In this section we will go over all the various abilities Dragoons can use to maximize their uptime.

Before we begin, however, I want to touch on one of the most important basic skills and what I believe separates the top players from the average ones. Always. Be. Pressing. Something! I can’t stress this enough! When analyzing FFlogs parses of average players you’ll see that they have one thing in common: low CPM, or “casts per minute”. Regardless of what class you play you should be maximizing your CPM.

As a melee DPS, using the legacy control setting will increase your uptime. Legacy controls have so much free movement that it’s actually broken. You can use your keyboard and mouse to turn. Holding down right click + left click and inching forward while DPSing is a good way to face behind you while pressing your GCDs, which would normally face you to the front, however since you’re holding Right + Left click your back is still turned towards the boss. This makes Elusive Jump that much easier to time. This is a good example for knockback mechanics like Flood of Naught in O4S.

Elusive Jump

One of the unique abilities that makes Dragoons so versatile, this ability jumps you backwards 15 yalms and is on a 30 second cooldown. This ability does not do any damage and does not require a target to use, similar to Ninja’s Shukuchi. Elusive Jump is an extremely flexible option, but it is the most difficult gap closer in the game to master, as it requires you to accurately turn your back to the required destination and correctly gauge the movement distance. Mastering this skill can absolutely increase your uptime, but it requires extensive knowledge of fight mechanics and precise reaction timing. Elusive Jump can be used for a number of purposes, but the primary ones are to reduce or increase the distance between you and your target, and to nullify knockback mechanics.

Using Elusive Jump to quickly close the distance between you and your target can directly increase your uptime. This can even be done in your opener to reach the boss faster as it lets you get to the boss without pulling aggro as you would with sprint. Some examples of using this ability to increase uptime via getting back to the boss quicker are: after Gravitational Collapse in O2S, Spellblade Fire III and Spellblade Holy during book phase in O3S, and after Light and Darkness and Thunder III in O4S.

Elusive Jump is also extremely useful if you want to cancel knockback effects. Due to the way mechanics work in this game, any ability that closes/increases the distance between you and your target cancels the animation of the knockback when used. Some good applications of this are: during Downburst in O1S (as soon as the ice forms you can move backwards and Elusive Jump, canceling the knockback), during Flood of Naught in O4S (time your Elusive Jump during the knockback to cancel it) and during Grand Cross Delta in O4S (to cancel the knockback effect from the Off Balance debuff). Be careful, though. If you use Elusive Jump too early you’ll end up jumping off the edge to your death.

You can also use Elusive Jump to negate knockbacks that would usually kill you. Take Vaccum Wave in Neo Exdeath as an example: I didn’t make it out of the AoE in time and avoided being pushed off the edge thanks to Elusive Jump and quick reaction time!

You can also chain Elusive Jump into Spineshatter Dive or Dragonfire Dive, depending on the need. This is useful in O3S during both Briars + Spellblade Fire III in the second phase. You can use Elusive Jump to get to safety outside the range of the AoE and break the tether, then immediately use Spineshatter Dive to get back to the boss. Likewise in A12S you could Elusive Jump to get a 10th GCD before Temporal Stasis then Dragonfire Dive back.

Spineshatter Dive

Spineshatter Dive is your second most available gap closer, and activates similar to Monk’s Shoulder Tackle or Samurai’s Gyoten. Once used on a target it immediately launches you to its position. This ability is on a 60 second cooldown which means it’s available frequently, but not as frequently as Elusive Jump. The big difference between the two is that Spineshatter Dive is far easier to time and use. Despite the negative stigma about holding oGCDs, if you know a point in the fight will have downtime and you can use this ability to reduce it then using it to get an extra GCD will most likely outweigh the loss (260p) from missing out on an additional use over the course of the fight.

Examples of good Spineshatter Dive movement are: during the 2nd Downburst in O1S to get back to the boss immediately as the ice forms, and during Meteors in O4S, where you can use Spineshatter Dive to get back to the boss quicker after he teleports.

Dragonfire Dive

A 120 second gap closer; twice the cooldown of Spineshatter Dive. Usually you want to

use this skill for burst windows or AoE situations. In terms of PPS, Dragonfire Dive is lower than Spineshatter Dive, but due to Spineshatter’s short cooldown of 60 seconds it can be easy to lose a usage over the fight if you hold it to use as a gap closer. If holding Dragonfire Dive instead will net you that extra use while not losing any Dragonfire Dives than this is a situation where you would switch them. If you’re put in a situation where you have to lose one or the other then Spineshatter Dive is the ability that you want to get in, as it also grants a use of Mirage Dive (460 combined potency). Also keep in mind that if you hold Spineshatter Dive you risk pushing back or losing a Life cycle as well as you disrupting Geirskogul and Eye timings.

In order to optimize the use of these two skills it’s important to map out Geirskogul timings, Life cycle timings, as well as timings where Elusive Jump won’t suffice. While getting these two skills under buff windows is ideal, holding them to prevent losing GCDs and potential auto attacks can often improve your DPS.

An example where you can use Dragonfire Dive for movement is in O3S, where your 2nd Dragonfire Dive should naturally align itself with the White Flames death, and you can use it to jump back to the boss immediately, with zero downtime.

Jump

There’s something interesting about Jump that many people aren’t aware of, and that is that Jump can be used to cancel knockbacks. While it is EXTREMELY difficult to pull off, it IS possible. Now, the question is whether it’s worth it or not to coordinate the strict use of this skill. When using Jump it will lock your position at the start of the animation. This means it works the same as Spineshatter and Dragonfire Dive, stopping you midway through a knockback animation. This was an extremely useful skill to master back in A3S, since it lined up with each Wash Away. The problem with using Jump to negate knockbacks is that it is very, very difficult to time, and if mis-timed you will most likely end up losing a GCD. Server connection and latency issues can make this method even more unreliable.

 

Movement & Uptime

As a melee, knowing how to move your character properly and efficiently is one of the most important aspects of maximizing uptime. It is, in my opinion, THE most crucial component when trying to optimize your personal DPS. Below is a synopsis of certain uptime mechanics and how they work.

Getting into actually increasing uptime via movement is kind of complicated, and requires that you understand how mechanics and damage work in this game. Every boss ability in this game either checks your position as the cast is finished or checks your position as the animation goes off.

First we’ll tackle mechanics that can be identified rather quickly: cast bars. Cast bar mechanics check your position as the cast finishes. These mechanics are generally simpler to handle, as you’ll always have a clear visual indicator to dance around, position yourself accordingly, and return to you main objective: attacking the enemy. Abilities such as Spellblade Fire III, Folio, and The Game in O3S, Thunder III in O4S, Propeller Wind in A11S, and Tail End in Zurvan EX are all examples of castbar type abilities. As long as you are in a position where your character is registered as safe – whether it be your square position for Folio & The Game, outside the range for Fire III, or behind the tower for Propeller Wind, you can move freely immediately after the cast is finished with no repercussions.

Next we’ll talk about mechanics that require a bit more focus: visual animations. These mechanics check your position as the animation happens. Grand Cross Alpha in O4S, Sacrament in A12S, and Steamroller in A10S are examples of abilities that have specific animations which can be used to your advantage in maximizing DPS. In A12S you can stay in the hitbox for Sacrament even when Alexander has finished the cast, as long as you are safely out of range when the animation goes off. For Grand Cross Alpha, or any Grand Cross that applies a hysteria debuff to your character, you don’t have to move into the center of the arena until the damage registers. Jumping also negates the movement for hysteria so use this to your advantage.

I’m going to talk about some things that I haven’t categorized before and are some of my favorite fight mechanics; the ones that truly allow a player to shine when executed correctly. There are certain abilities that can kill you easily if mishandled but are worth the risk once you figure out precise timing and techniques. These are abilities that have no true indicator of when they are going to happen. You have to solely rely on your knowledge and patterns in the fight. Fire Orbs in O1S, O2S Tentacles, A11S Optical Sight, Zurvan Meteors, A8S Flamethrower with Prey, and Charges in A10S. Once you learn the specific ins and outs of these mechanics, you can easily bob & weave to keep that damage up!

Every boss in the game has little niche things they do, movement wise. For example: Hallicarnasuss will always jump to the center of the arena and face north when casting The Queens Waltz, Lamebrix Strikbocks would always jump to the ice trap immediately following the 1st charge in the fight, Neo Exdeath will randomly spawn around the arena in the 11 other cardinal and intercardinal directions (N, NW, NE, S, SE, SW, etc.) Using Elusive Jump here greatly reduces the amount of distance you have to traverse.

Some fights also have mechanics where you can keep uptime by abusing the normal way of handling them if you can adapt quickly enough. This comes with understanding how said mechanic works and how to position yourself to work around it. Take Susano EX, for example: If you are marked with the knockback you can position yourself to get knocked back to the front of the boss, rather than behind. This shortens the gap between you and and the boss, allowing you to get back into melee range much quicker and does not cause Susano to turn around, so your other party members can continue to hit positionals easily.

For more details about how to maximize uptime check out my in depth guide for melee uptime!

Risks

I would like to stress the importance of taking risks to push DPS, but not to the point of wiping your party! I would only test things during progression or optimization runs. Maximizing uptime requires a strong reaction time. If you have difficulty adjusting to certain things on the fly or struggle breaking safe play habits, then executing some of these tactics may leave you with a feeling of malaise. That is perfectly okay and as long as you practice and are willing to try new strategies, you’ll be able to comfortably assess whether or not certain things are possible. Do not feel deterred if you mistime something, or make even the simplest of mistakes when trying to push yourself further. Practice makes perfect!

 

Fight Specific Optimization

This section contains detailed tips for each fight that I have personally optimized. This section will use the typical clear times for the average group for each fight. If you are killing below these times you should be able to map out your own GCDs.

 

O1 Savage (2.44 – 2.40 GCD)

6 minutes or less killtime

  • Use Late GSK opener
  • Use the Jump first in the opener
  • Try to get your Heavy Thrust in before he jumps to the center for downburst
  • If you got the Heavy Thrust in you can get Wheeling Thrust off before Downburst, if not you can only get Fang and Claw.
  • Use True North before Downburst
  • Use Elusive Jump to negate the knockback from Downburst. (0:52)
  • Use your 2nd B4B before Disembowel (1:25)
  • 1st LotD here (1:23)
  • If you lost no uptime you’re able to get your Wheeling Thrust off before the fire orbs in the center explode (If your tank is being an ass, tanking the boss in the center you can stay till your Levinbolt AoE marker disappears then run out)
  • Pop Bloodbath before or after Levinbolt
  • Double weave Dragon Sight + Life Surge. DS should affect Geirskogul, Jump, Spineshatter Dive, Dragonfire Dive, and two Mirage Dives as well as a Full Thrust, Chaos Thrust, and two 5th tier combos. (2:05)
  • Use your 3rd B4B on cooldown (should be before Disembowel or Chaos Thrust) (2:40)
  • 2nd LotD here (2:57)
  • Save your 3rd Spineshatter Dive for the 2nd Downburst. (3:17)
  • Pop True North before Downburst and use Spineshatter Dive to get back to the boss instantly. (3:33)
  • Use Geirskogul before your Mirage Dive that grants your 4th eye if not use your Mirage Dive before Geirskogul (3:50)
  • Use Sprint before he jumps away to randomly spawn around the arena to do Breath Wing. (3:52)
  • Go into your 3rd LotD paired with Battle Litany, Blood for Blood, Dragon Sight, and Potion. This should affect Dragonfire Dive, Jump, Spineshatter Dive, and two – three Mirage Dives. (4:35)
  • Pop Bloodbath for the Levinbolt (5:10)
  • Hold your Geirskogul here (5:20)
  • If you held your Geirskogul then at 5:30 you’ll get one last LotD window with at max 3 Nastronds before the boss dies at sub 6 minutes.

 

6:30+ Killtime

  • Everything is the same as listed above besides a few things
  • You use Early GSK in the opener
  • If you’re group is killing it 6:00+ then use Battle Litany as soon as it comes off cooldown (3:02).
  • You go into your 3rd LotD window at 4:05 instead of 4:30 as well as using Blood for Blood & Dragon Sight. (4:05)
  • Use Dragonfire Dive under buffs at (4:05)
  • You hold your 2nd Potion till 6:00
  • You don’t hold your Geirskogul at 5:20 and instead use on cooldown.
  • Hold your Blood for Blood at 5:35 and save for 2nd Potion
  • Use Potion > Blood for Blood > Battle Litany > Dragon Sight respectively as they come off cooldown and enter your 4th and last LotD window at 6:05.

 

O2 Savage (2.44 – 2.40 GCD)

7:00 or less killtime

  • Use Late GSK opener.
  • Use Jump first in the opener.
  • Pop Bloodbath (0:35)
  • You should be able to get all your GCDs under their positionals before having to stack for that venn diagram thing (0:40)
  • Use Blood for Blood before Chaos Thrust so you can hit Jump + Mirage Dive under its effects (1:27)
  • Enter your 1st LotD window (1:30)
  • You should be able to Chaos Thrust off before having to look away for Death’s Gaze.
  • Use Dragon Sight after Vorpal Thrust. If tank pulls the boss properly you’ll be able to get Dragonfire Dive, Jump, Spineshatter Dive, and two Mirage Dives under it. (2:06)
  • Use Bloodbath (2:09)
  • Use Blood for Blood before Disembowel (2:44)
  • Enter your 2nd LotD window (2:50)
  • Use Battle Litany (3:10) This should catch a Nastrond, Geirskogul, Jump, Spineshatter Dive and two Mirage Dives.
  • Battle Litany should wear off right as -100Gs starts. (3:30)
  • Don’t use the Mirage Dive you get from Jump until you get off Geirskogul. Should be something like Jump > wait > Geirskogul > Mirage Dive. (3:50)
  • You should be able to get Wheeling Thrust off  before having to stack in the center (4:05)
  • Use True North (4:08)
  • Hold Dragon Sight and Blood for Blood till after Longdrop (4:10)
  • Use Dragon Sight and Blood for Blood after before Full Thrust (4:28) Get Dragonfire Dive, Jump, Spineshatter Dive + two Mirage Dives under it.
  • Go into your 3rd LotD window as soon as you can (4:35)
  • Use Bloodbath (5:15)
  • Use Geirskogul before your 4th eye Mirage Dive (5:45)
  • Hold Blood for Blood (5:58)
  • Pop True North (6:08)
  • Hold Battle Litany (6:10)
  • Use Elusive Jump to get back to the boss quicker after being knocked back (6:15)
  • Hold Geirskogul (6:20)
  • Use Battle Litany > Potion > Blood for Blood > Dragon Sight and enter your last LotD window (6:20-6:30)

O3 Savage (2.44 – 2.40 GCD)

7:30 or less Kill Time

  • Use Late GSK opener
  • Use Spineshatter Dive first in the opener
  • If you have a Ninja in the group hold the Mirage Dive you get from Spineshatter Dive until Trick Attack. This lets you get MD + LS FT + Jump + MD in the 10 seconds window. (1:11)
  • Eat your 5th eye (1:20)
  • Hold Blood for Blood and Geirskogul till after Briars (1:25)
  • Pop Sprint (1:26)
  • Run out then Elusive Jump back in (1:34)
  • Pop Bloodbath (1:45)
  • Hold your last Nastrond and use it so it hits the boss and the White Flame (2:02)
  • Don’t bother putting Disembowel on the White Flame (2:05)
  • Use Dragon Sight after Vorpal Thrust (2:07)
  • Hold DFD so and use it as a gap closer back to the boss (2:15)
  • Align yourself so you’re still hitting the boss when Mindjack goes off (2:32)
  • Spam Elusive Jump till it goes off after the Mindjack wears off (2:37)
  • Hold Geirskogul (2:46)
  • Hold the Mirage Dive till your 3rd Blood for Blood (2:50)
  • Pop True North before Chaos Thrust (2:55)
  • Use your 3rd Blood for Blood before Chaos Thrust (2:58)
  • Use Battle Litany on cooldown (3:01)
  • Use Geirskogul and Nastrond so they both hit the Boss and the Great Dragon. (3:04)
  • Use Disembowel + Chaos Thrust on the Great Dragon (3:08)
  • Use Spineshatter Dive and Mirage Dive on the Boss (3:10)
  • Use your 2nd Nastrond so it hits the Boss and the Great Dragon (3:14)
  • Make sure you use your Chaos Thrust combo again on the boss so it doesn’t drop either Disembowel or Chaos Thrust (3:22)
  • Hold your Mirage Dive and 3rd Nastrond for Trick Attack (3:24)
  • Pop Sprint for the Queen’s Waltz and Reapers (3:45)
  • Hold Dragon Sight (4:08)
  • Hold Geirskogul (4:15)
  • Hold Dragonfire Dive (4:16)
  • Use Blood for Blood as soon as it comes off cooldown before Chaos Thrust (4:18)
  • Try to squeeze in that extra GCD before having to move to your Folio square if the boss is out of range (4:22)
  • Use Dragon Sight (4:32)
  • If you don’t need to kill before 8:00 then you can hold your Blood for Blood and line it up with Dragon Sight + Potion at 4:30.
  • Enter your 3rd LotD window and hit your Geirskogul and Nastrond on the Boss and Apanda (4:37)
  • Use Dragonfire Dive so it hits the Boss and Apanda (4:40)
  • Use Nastrond so it hits the Boss and Apanda (4:48)
  • Target the Apanda add so you’re not facing the Boss when it’s using Squelch
  • Disembowel and Chaos Thrust the Apanda (4:54)
  • Use Jump on the boss (4:58)
  • Double weave Nastrond and Mirage Dive so it hits the Boss and the Apanda (5:00)
  • Pop Sprint (5:25)
  • Locate what book you need to grab. If you need to grab a blue book calculate and Elusive Jump at the last second so you can get an extra GCD (5:30)
  • Use Blood for Blood before Disembowel (5:39)
  • Enter your 4th LotD (5:47)
  • Use your 2nd Nastrond (5:57)
  • You should be able to get your 3rd Nastrond off before you get turned into the 3rd animal (6:08)
  • Get Spineshatter Dive off before you get turned into an animal (6:14)
  • Refresh Heavy Thrust as soon as you return to normal or it will drop (6:25)
  • Same with Disembowel and Chaos Thrust (6:30)
  • Use Geirskogul as soon as it comes off cooldown (6:30)
  • Pop True North before Spellblade Holy goes off (6:49)
  • Heavy Thrust and pop your buffs in the order of your opener. HT > BL > ID > DS + B4B > DM > Pot > CT (6:59)
  • Enter your 5th and last LotD window (7:05)

 

O4 Savage Exdeath (2.44 – 2.40 GCD)

4:20 killtime

  • Use Late GSK opener
  • Use Jump first or you’ll be screwed for Blizzard
  • Slightly move when using Dragonfire Dive and Spineshatter Dive as the AoEs calculate your position a few milliseconds before they appear. This should enable you to do the regular opener (0:15)
  • Pop Bloodbath (0:40)
  • Skip Heavy Thrust if you didn’t have Arrow at the start of the pull. This will let you get a 5th tier combo off before Decisive Battle (0:52)
  • Pop Sprint (1:06)
  • Heavy Thrust then use Blood of the Dragon before an element III (1:25)
  • Pop Bloodbath (1:27)
  • Double weave Arms Length with Blood for Blood at (1:29)
  • Spineshatter Dive before Jump (1:34)
  • Use Jump under Trick Attack (1:39)
  • Enter your 1st LotD window (1:41)
  • Hold Dragon Sight (2:04)
  • Hold Dragonfire Dive (2:14)
  • Use Geirskogul on cooldown (2:16)
  • Use Geirskogul before your Mirage Dive that grants your 4th eye (2:41)
  • Pop Sprint (3:14)
  • Use Blood of the Dragon after Heavy Thrust (3:21)
  • Double Weave Battle Litany + Arms Length before Disembowel and Dragon Sight + Blood for Blood before Chaos Thrust (3:24)
  • Enter your 2nd and last LotD window (3:33)
  • Use Dragonfire Dive (3:39)
  • Use Geirskogul on CD (4:05)

 

O4 Savage Neo Exdeath (2.44 – 2.40 GCD)

11:30 Killtime

  • Elusive Jump into battle
  • Use Early GSK opener
  • You should be able to get Vorpal Thrust off before Grand Cross Alpha if you have a SCH or Arrow. (0:44)
  • Jumping (spacebar) delays the movement of Hysteria (0:44)
  • Pop Sprint as soon as you are able to control your character (0:49)
  • Use Elusive Jump to negate the knockback from Flood of Naught (0:54)
  • If you have low latency then you can get off 3 GCDs before Flood of Naught if naught (get it not :D?) then you can only get 2 GCDs off.
  • You can get off another GCD after Flood of Naught before you need to stop for Acceleration Bomb if you timed your Elusive Jump well. (0:57)
  • Eat your 5th Eye (1:18)
  • Use your 2nd Blood for Blood before Disembowel (1:32)
  • Enter your 1st LotD window (1:34)
  • Hold Dragon Sight (2:04)
  • If you have to get knocked back make sure to cancel it by using Elusive Jump (2:12)
  • Weave Dragon Sight with Life Surge after Vorpal Thrust (2:15)
  • Hold your Jump till your 3rd Blood for Blood (2:46)
  • Use your 3rd Blood for Blood and use Jump  (2:52)
  • Pop Sprint (3:08)
  • Go to your designated locations for Light and Darkness and if the boss teleports to a far away spot use Elusive Jump to get back to him quicker. (3:16)
  • Hold Geirskogul (3:18)
  • Use Jump on cooldown (3:24)
  • Hold Spineshatter Dive (3:25)
  • Target the furthest Arcane Sphere away that’s next to the boss (should always be the most east one closest to him) and enter your 2nd LotD. Your Geirskogul and Nastronds should hit the Boss and 2 Meteors respectively. (3:36)
  • You can get your 2nd Nastrond off on the Boss and Meteor if lucky. (3:47)
  • Hold Geirskogul (4:14)
  • Hold Dragon Sight and Blood for Blood slightly (4:15)
  • Use Dragon Sight before Disembowel (4:20)
  • Use Blood for Blood before Chaos Thrust (4:22)
  • If you timed your Jumps right it should come off cooldown here (4:26)
  • Enter your 3rd LotD window (4:29)
  • Get a Nastrond and Chaos Thrust off before Grand Cross Alpha (4:52)
  • Use Elusive Jump to negate the Flood of Naught knockback (5:05)
  • Hold Blood for Blood (5:42)
  • If handled correctly you should be going into The Final Battle with 4 Eyes and Geirskogul and Spineshatter Dive on CD. (5:53)
  • If you need to use Doom Spike > Sonic Thrust to extend your Blood timer then you should do it.
  • Blood of the Dragon during Omega, timing will depend on your Blood gauge timer when you go into it. Refresh at 1 second.
  • Use Elusive Jump to cancel the knockback from Flood of Naught (6:28)
  • Full Burst. Battle Litany + Blood for Blood + Dragon Sight + Potion here. (6:30)
  • Enter your 4th LotD (6:39)
  • Use Elusive Jump to cancel the knockback if you need to after Grand Cross Delta (7:29)
  • Hold Geirskogul slightly so it catches Blood for Blood (7:54)
  • Use Geirskogul before you get the 4th eye from Spineshatter Dive (7:54)
  • Eat your 5th eye (8:17)
  • Pop Sprint (8:29)
  • Use Elusive Jump to get back to the boss quicker (8:35)
  • Use Dragon Sight before Disembowel (8:50)
  • Preposition yourself so you’re inside one of the meteors already and get ready to target the far one (8:52)
  • This one is a lot more difficult to pull off so it’s okay to go into your LotD earlier.
  • Target the furthest Arcane Sphere away that’s next to the boss (should always be the most east one closest to him) and enter your 5th LotD. Your Geirskogul and Nastronds should hit the Boss and 2 Meteors respectively. These should be buffed by Dragon Sight (8:58)
  • After the Nastrond goes off Dragonfire Dive over to the far meteor. This should enable you to hit the The boss and the meteor with it. This should be buffed by Dragon Sight (8:59)
  • Then after the boss teleports Spineshatter Dive to him. (9:02)
  • Use Blood for Blood on cooldown (9:13)
  • Hold Battle Litany (9:32)
  • Enter your 6th LotD window (10:04)
  • Spineshatter Dive before Grand Cross Alpha (10:08)
  • Use Elusive Jump to negate the knockback from Flood of Naught (10:22)
  • Pop Potion (10:59)
  • Use Battle Litany, Blood for Blood, and Dragon Sight (11:06)
  • Enter your 7th and final LotD window (11:15)

Miscellaneous Topics

BiS Lists

There are two main Best in Slots floating around. You will want to swap gear depending on certain situations. Swap between Genji and Augmented chest piece depending on if you have a Bard or not.

Overall 717 SKS BiS (My preferred)

Overall 512 SKS BiS 

O1S and O2S maximum BiS 

O3S and O4S maximum BiS 

The difference between these two sets is down to 0.1% DPS, so choose whichever one you are more comfortable with. A thing to note, however, is that if you clip anything at all with the 512 SkS build you will be unable to get 9 GCDs under buffs.

 

Macros

Dragoons should NEVER use macros, aside from skills that require you to target a fellow party member. Using macros on any other skills will ALWAYS be a DPS loss and should be avoided.

Dragon Sight:

/micon “Dragon Sight”
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>
/ac “Dragon Sight” <mo>

Goad

/macroicon “Goad”
/ac “Goad” <mo>

 

Stats

The most optimal way of handling melding is by reaching certain breakpoints for each set of stats. You don’t want to focus on one stat. Optimal use of stats includes re-melding for each fight. For example, you want a SS meld for O1 and O2, and a Det meld for O3 and Exfaust. This can get quite expensive for such a tiny impact on your DPS, so it’s generally not worth it unless you are speed running.

What stats should I favor on a basic level? Well, it’s dependant on comp. If you have a heavy crit buff party (SCH and BRD) then go for Crit >> DH > Det > SKS

If you only have one crit buffer in the party (SCH or BRD) then Crit > DH > Det > SKS

If you have neither in the group then Crit ≥ DH > Det > SKS

 

ACT Triggers

I personally don’t use many ACT triggers, but here are some that can be useful.

Hypercharge
<Trigger R=”The rook autoturret gains the effect of Hypercharge.” SD=”Hypercharge” ST=”3″ CR=”F” C=” General” T=”F” TN=”” Ta=”F” />

Embolden
<Trigger R=”You gain the effect of Embolden.” SD=”Embolden” ST=”3″ CR=”F” C=” General” T=”F” TN=”” Ta=”F” />

Trick Attack
<Trigger R=”uses Trick Attack” SD=”Trick Attack” ST=”3″ CR=”F” C=” General” T=”F” TN=”” Ta=”F” />

Brotherhood
<Trigger R=”you gain the effect of Brotherhood.” SD=”Brotherhood” ST=”3″ CR=”F” C=” General” T=”F” TN=”” Ta=”F” />

Battle Voice
<Trigger R=”you gain the effect of Battle Voice” SD=”Battle Voice” ST=”3″ CR=”F” C=” General” T=”F” TN=”” Ta=”F” />

 

Personal Tips

A lot of players are under the incorrect assumption that the top tier players are taught by others, when a large percentage of them – or at least the ones I know – are self taught.

For improving your play, I recommend hitting the dummy. I used to hit a dummy for hours on end, and I really do mean HOURS. I’ve probably spent around 70 hours just hitting a dummy, getting a feel for my rotations, and adjusting them little by little. Be able to do your rotation without looking at your keyboard or controller. Get a feel for your keyboard, know where each GCDs keybind is. I have my keybinds set up so that I don’t have to move my hand at all, which is really convenient.  Mapping out your cooldowns for a fight goes a long way as well. If you can record your fights, watch them over and over again and map out each cooldown. You can use a timeline to mark each cooldown if you need to.

Another thing that really helps a player’s self improvement is watching PoVs! The main reason I even upload my clears is for people to watch and learn from them. Now, I don’t want people just copying what I do, since some of the things that I do might not be 100% optimal. However, if you can watch my videos and think “Hmm, okay so he does this and this because of this. How can I adjust this to my own group’s strategy?” Then you’re already on the right step. This is a key point in a lot of top tier players, in my opinion. Being able to watch someone’s game play and take little things they do and adapting it to your own style.

I also use FFlogs to look through players cooldown usage and the timeline of their casts. If they do something different then i’ll try to figure out why they do it and if it’s an increase or not. If it’s an increase i’ll look through my PoVs and see how I can somehow adapt what they do to my own playstyle. I can’t stress enough how important these two are for self improvement.

If you’re not satisfied with your group, think about what you could be doing better instead of putting the blame only on your team. Self-criticism is the first step towards improvement. Also, if you find someone that outputs higher DPS than you, question yourself on the reason instead of coming up with excuses. Is it because of their group composition? Do they have better gear? Or are they straight-up better at playing the class? Remember: a 5 item level difference on a weapon does NOT make up for 300 DPS!

A player will never know where their limits are until he crosses them.

And now, as we wrap things up, I want to thank all the players and viewers for their endless support, feedback, and energy! Thank you! While this guide may look intimidating to newer players at first I promise you that once you take the first step it’ll *snap* just like that!

Special thanks to: Kyoruakun Shunsui, Wegente Leth, Seo Critani, and to my static members. Bokchoy Mcnuggets, i’m gonna miss raiding with this guy. Was one of the most sophisticated players in the game. Really gonna miss you buddy :(.  Xanther Zolka, one of the funniest guys i’ve met. Truly a pleasure playing and being your melee partner. Xenosys Vex, that bald guy with a THICC beard. Was one of my inspirations when I started making videos. Laqi Thish, one of the greatest casters in this game. Super intelligent but also quiet. A mystery… Chet Mix or You are unable to obtain the Gengi ephemeris Mix. One of the chillest dudes you’ll meet has a great sense of humor and his laugh cheers me up. Ellatrix Reartori, pretty laid back dude that I throw a lot of banter at. In reality he’s a pretty cool guy… as long as you aren’t late for raid. And finally Grand Master, the guy that’ll do what ever his team wants even he if he doesn’t want to. A great asset to the team and family. Super cool guy! Love each and every one of you guys.

 

Momo’s Links

FFlogs Youtube Twitch Twitter If you’d like some visuals to accompany all this DRG theory please check out the following YouTube playlist for some related videos

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