Ninja played optimally has a very high DPS ceiling, comparable to Dragoons, and unrivaled utility, making them all-stars when they make the most of their available skill set. Ninja requires a complex weave of skills to maximize DPS, and adding Mudras to the equation puts the class at a pretty high skill cap.
Ninja is the most flexible of the melee jobs and has the easiest time adjusting to mechanics and switching between targets. They also have the easiest time adjusting to downtime mechanics since the main buff they have to maintain has a 70 second duration that you can refresh every 3 GCDs for 30 seconds. In top tier teams a Ninja can make or break them depending on how they utilize the class.
These are the basic skills that form the core of your rotation. SPINNING EDGE DANCING EDGE ARMOR CRUSH AEOLIAN EDGE SHADOW FANG THROWING DAGGER DEATH BLOSSOM POISONS KISS OF THE WASP AND KISS OF THE VIPER
Delivers an attack with a potency of 150.
Used after Spinning Edge, delivers
an attack with a potency of 200.
Used after Gust Slash, a 260 potency attack that also decreases target’s slashing resistance by 10% and HP recovery via healing magic by 20% for 20 seconds. WAR, PLD, DRK and NIN all do slashing damage, so this is a 10% increase for each of those classes. Does not stack with Storm’s Eye (WARs slashing debuff).
Used after Gust Slash, a 220 potency attack (280 from flank) that also extends Huton duration by 30 seconds to a maximum of 70 seconds.
Used after Gust Slash, a 240 potency attack (320 from rear). Your hardest-hitting combo finisher. Use this is you don’t need to refresh the slashing debuff or extend your Huton duration.
A 60 potency attack that also does damage over time of 30 potency for 30 seconds (360 total potency)
Used after Spinning Edge, a 200 potency attack that also does damage over time of 40 potency for 18s (440 total potency).
Delivers a ranged attack with a potency of 120. Range: 15y. Ninja’s only ranged weaponskill. Can be useful when mechanics force you out of melee range, but it will break your combo, so use carefully.
Delivers an attack with a potency of 110 to all nearby enemies. Radius: 5y. Ninja’s only AoE weaponskill. Spam this if there are 4 or more targets to hit.
They share a 5s recast timer, and only one can be active at a time. Both increase physical damage dealt by 20%. Wasp venom changes the additional effect of Jugulate to Stun; Viper venom changes the additional effect of Mug to absorb 50% of damage as HP. Stick with Viper for the small self heal unless you know there’s something you need to stun.
POISONS KISS OF THE WASP AND KISS OF THE VIPER
These are your offensive off-global cooldown abilities, which you can weave in between your basic weaponskills.
MUG JUGULATE SNEAK ATTACK
Delivers an attack with a potency of 200. Can only be executed when target’s HP is below 20%. Recast: 40s. This ability will cause a short animation lock, so use carefully!
Delivers an attack with a potency of 140. Recast: 90s. Viper Venom Effect: Absorbs 50% of damage as HP.
Delivers an attack with a potency of 80. Additional Effect: Silence. Duration 1s. Wasp Venom Effect: Changes the additional effect to Stun. Duration 2s. Recast: 30s. Flexible stun or silence, depending on which poison you use.
Delivers an attack with a potency of 300 (500 from front). Requires Suiton buff to use, and shares a recast timer with Trick Attack. Recast: 60s. Extremely situational and rarely used in PvE content.
KASSATSU DUALITY DREAM WITHIN A DREAM
Delivers an attack with a potency of 240. 400 when executed from a target’s rear. Rear Bonus: Increases target’s damage taken by 10%. Duration: 10s. Recast: 60s. Requires Suiton buff to use.
Resets the ninjutsu recast timer while ensuring critical damage for the next ninjutsu action. Duration: 15s.
Doubles the number of noncritical strikes for a singletarget weaponskill. Combo bonuses and additional effects will only be applied once. Duration: 10s. Use this with Aeolian Edge (your highest potency weaponskill).
Delivers a threefold attack, each hit with a potency of 100 (300 potency total). Recast: 90s.
DREAM WITHIN A DREAM
SHUKUCHI SMOKE SCREEN SHADEWALKER NINJUTSU MUDRA – TEN, CHI, AND JIN NINJUTSU HUTON
Create shadows that nullify physical damage up to 20% of maximum HP. Duration: 20s. Recast 20s. GOAD Refreshes TP of a single party member. Duration: 30s. Recast: 180s.
Move quickly to the specified location. Cannot use when bound. Recast: 60s.
Creates a wall of smoke, reducing enmity generation of a single party member. Duration: 20s. Recast: 180s.
Grants target party member the effect of Silhouette, diverting to target 80% of all enmity generated by caster. Duration: 15s. Recast: 120s.
Make the ritual mudra hand gesture for “Heaven, Earth, and Man” Duration: 5s. Recast: 0.5s. All three share a recast timer.
Executes a specific ninjutsu action coinciding with the combination of mudra made immediately beforehand. Recast: 20s.
Increases attack speed by 15%. Duration: 70s. Mudra Combination: Jin > Chi > Ten or Chi > Jin > Ten. Use this pre-pull and never let it fall off (if you can help it). Huton timer can be extended with Armor Crush.
NINJUTSU MUDRA – TEN, CHI, AND JIN
RAITON KATON DOTON SUITON HYOTON RABBIT MEDIUM
Delivers a ranged ninjutsu attack with a potency of 240. Range: 25y. Mudra Combination: Any one of the Ten, Chi, or Jin mudra.
Delivers lightning damage with a potency of 360. Range: 15y. Mudra Combination: Ten > Chi or Jin > Chi.
Delivers fire damage with a potency of 250 to target and all enemies near it. Range: 15y. Radius: 5y. Mudra Combination: Chi > Ten or Jin > Ten. Kassatsu is used before using Katon, all hits will be crits.
Creates a patch of corrupted earth, dealing damage with a potency of 40 to any enemies who enter. Duration: 24 seconds. Radius: 5y. Additional effect: Heavy +40%. Mudra Combination: Jin > Chi > Ten or Chi > Jin > Ten. When used after Kassatsu, each tick of Doton will crit.
Delivers water damage with a potency of 180. Additional Effect: Grants the caster Suiton. Duration: 10s. Range: 15y. Mudra Combination: Ten > Chi > Jin or Chi >Ten > Jin. The Suiton buff allows the use of Trick Attack or Sneak attack without using Hide (which can’t be used in combat).
Delivers ice damage with a potency of 140. Range: 25y. Additional Effect: Bind. Mudra Combination: Ten > Jin or Chi > Jin. Useless in PvE, but the bind can be useful in PvP.
Thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump… You done fucked up kid. Use it anyway so you can put Ninjutsu back on CD. At least you get a cute rabbit black mage on your head.
CROSS CLASS ABILITIES
INTERNAL RELEASE (PUG LVL 12)
Increases critical hit rate by 10%. Duration: 15s. Recast: 60s
BLOOD FOR BLOOD (LNC LVL 34)
Increases damage dealt by 10% and damage suffered by 25%. Duration: 20s. Recast: 80s. Note the increase to damage suffered, and be careful using this if big AoE damage is happening.
SECOND WIND (PUG LVL 8)
Instantly restores own HP. Cure Potency: 450. Recast: 120s. Cure potency varies with current attack power. This skill is a life saver, it’s also the only self sustain skill we can learn.
INVIGORATE (LNC LVL 22)
Instantly restores 400 TP. Recast: 120s. This is a must for long fights, since we can’t use Goad on ourselves.
MANTRA (PUG LVL 42)
Increases HP recovery via curing magic by 5% for self and nearby party members. Duration: 15s. Recast: 120s.
There are a few different openers you can use depending on the fight and how long each phase will last after that opener is complete. Outside of the opener, use all your offensive oGCDs the second they come off cooldown. Blood for Blood is a special case which is discussed later on into the guide.
AEOLIAN EDGE OPENER
After the Aeolian Edge opener your basic GCD rotation will be as follows…
DE/AE > SF > MU > AC/AE > DE/AE (Opener Over) > SF > AC/AE > MU > SF > DE/AE > AC/AE > SF > DE/AE > MU > AC/AE > SF > DE/AE… and repeat.
Pros of the Aeolian Edge Opener:
◆ Highest Burst during the Opener
◆ Easier rotation for beginners to learn
◆ Best opener to use if no WAR (replace AE with DE) in party
◆ Buffed Shadow Fang and Mutilate in opener
Cons of the Aeolian Edge Opener:
◆ Lower PPS overtime compared to other openers
◆ Rotation can get funky at higher skill speeds
◆ Low trick attack synergy
SHADOW FANG OPENER
After the Shadow Fang opener your basic GCD rotation will be as follows…
SF > MU > DE/AE > AC/AE > SF (Opener Over) > DE/AE > AC/AE > MU > SF > DE/AE > AC/AE > SF > DE/AE > MU > AC/AE > SF > DE/AE > AC/AE… and repeat
Pros of the Shadow Fang Opener:
◆ Strong lineup of GCDs under Trick Attacks
◆ Maximizes efficiency with Party Utility
◆ Quicker application of DoTs
◆ Excels in phases that last in multiples of 48 seconds
◆ Benefits from high Skill Speed
Cons of the Shadow Fang Opener:
◆ Lower burst during the opener
◆ Strict GCD uptime (missing a GCD can mess the rotation up overtime)
◆ Lower PPS opener if no WAR is in the party
◆ Harder to execute with high ping
◆ Overall harder rotation to maximize as a newer player
After the Mutilate opener your basic GCD rotation will be as follows…
MU > SF > DE/AE > AC/AE > SF > DE/AE > MU > AC/AE > SF > DE/AE > AC/AE > SF > MU > DE/AE > AC/AE > SF > DE/AE > AC/AE… and repeat.
Pros of the Mutilate Opener:
◆ Excels in phases that last in multiples of 30 seconds
◆ Strongest lineup of GCDs under Trick Attacks
◆ Quick application of DoTs
◆ Benefits from High SKill Speed
Cons of the Mutilate Opener:
◆ Slow Start
◆ Unbuffed Mutilate in opener
◆ Harder to maximize with high ping
◆ Strict GCD Uptime
◆ Only useful in fights where the extra mutilate ticks make up for loss of potency during the opener
SF + DELAYED MUT OPENER
After the Fey Wind opener your basic GCD rotation will be as follows…
SF > DE/AE > MU > AC/AE > SF > DE/AE > AC/AE > SF > MU > DE/AE > AC/AE > SF > AC/AE > DE/AE > AC/AE > MU > SF > DE/AE > AC/AE > SF > DE/AE > MU… and repeat.
Pros of the SF + Delayed Mut Opener:
◆ Highest PPS overall
◆ Flexible with oGCDs during the opener
◆ Buffed mutilate in the opener
◆ 2nd Shadow Fang under Potion
Cons of the SF + Delayed Mut Opener:
◆ Only works with Fey Wind/High SKS/Low Ping
◆ Any clipping will usually mean the potion won‘t affect the 2nd SF
◆ Hardest opener to execute
Rotation Priorities Ninjas do not have a fixed rotation, and instead follow a priority system. I’m going to go over two priority systems here: one for single-target and another for AoE situations.
1. Is DANCING EDGE falling off? Will the Warrior be able to get it? If not, DANCING EDGE.
2. Is SHADOW FANG about to fall off? Shadow Fang combo.
3. Is MUTILATE about to fall off? MUTILATE.
4. Are SHADOW FANG and MUTILATE both about to fall off (e.g: SF has 5 seconds, MUTILATE has 4 seconds? Refresh SHADOW FANG first [Remember that shadow fang requires 2 GCDs so if SF is at 5 seconds and MUTILATE is at 4 use SHADOW FANG to get those extra ticks off])
5.Is Huton 40 seconds or below? Do you have buffs up/TRICK ATTACK? If no, use ARMOR CRUSH; if yes, use AEOLIAN EDGE.
6. Is everything on cooldown and Huton and DoTs don’t need to be refreshed? AEOLIAN EDGE.
7. Is TRICK ATTACK off cooldown? Suiton and TRICK ATTACK between GCDs.
8. After your opener use your 90 second oGCDs in the order of DREAM WITHIN A DREAM (300 PPS) > JUGULATE (240 PPS)> MUG (140 PPS) while throwing in DUALITY before your AEOLIAN EDGE.
9. Is Kassatsu off cooldown? Is TRICK ATTACK the next mudra? If not, use it with RAITON/FUMA; if so, save it for TRICK ATTACK and use RAITON.
1. Are there 2 or more enemies? Will they live longer than 21 seconds? If no, use KATON; if yes, use DOTON.
2. Are there 3 or more enemies? Will those enemies live for 30 seconds? If yes, multidot with mutilate then spam DEATH BLOSSOM; if no, spam DEATH BLOSSOM.
3. Are there more than 4 enemies? Spam DEATH BLOSSOM while weaving KATON/DOTON. AoE Rotation: DB > IR + BfB > DB > DOTON/KATON > DB > KASSATSU > DB > KATON > DB > DB > DB… and just spam DB.
This is something I don’t see talked about often in guides, probably due to the fact that a lot of players have different opinions on what is “right”. I’m going to explain 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 Hypercharge.
On a basic level, I believe you should only use Blood for Blood if all your 90 second CDs are at 19 seconds or below, and only use it before your Shadow Fang or 3rd tier combo (which should be Aeolian Edge.) The reasoning for this is that if you use BfB before a SF or AE you should get 2 SFs or 3 AEs under each BfB. This only applies if your 90 second CDs are offset by your 80 second CDs by 30 seconds or less. As an example, if your BfB comes off cooldown in one GCD but your Duality is coming off cooldown in 30 seconds, you would hold your BfB until Duality is at 19 seconds.
For Internal Release, I believe you should use it before your Shadow Fang, Mutilate, or 3rd Tier. Depending on the fight and your rotation, you should be able to refresh both sets of DoTs and get the initial hit of Trick Attack under most IRs. Generally you‘ll always want to prioritize TA every 3 Mudras or every 60 seconds but you’ll want to avoid holding IR for it. You can ignore this if you have knowledge of when the fight is going to end, however.
In most cases you’ll always want to have a Trick Attack up for Battle Litany, Potion, and Hypercharge windows, no questions asked. So try to time your TAs around these buffs even if it means delaying them slightly. Something else to note is that losing a use of BfB or IR isn’t always a negative thing, like if your BfB will be coming off cooldown right before a phase where you can‘t actually damage the boss.
See the General DPS Tips at the end of this guide for an example of how I plan out my cooldown usage.
MAXIMIZING TRICK ATTACKS
Sometimes using TA on cooldown isn’t the most optimal thing to do. The best examples of this are A10S and A12S.
In A10S, for most groups, your 2nd TA will be back up during the add. Using TA here is inefficient since party members will be split between the two enemies. If you push it back a mudra it will line up with your BfB and 90 second CDs as well as aiding everyone in your party. This also sets up your third and fourth trick attack nicely. The third one being after the Steam Roller and paired with Battle Litany, and the 4th lines up with your pot, BfB, IR, and Hypercharge after the 2nd add dies.
In A12S, after the 2nd stasis you’ll have the opportunity to use TA here, and generally you want to do so if you’re going to limit break inside timegate. However, if you aren’t going to limit break in the timegate, it might be better to save TA for the add inside. Once you leave the timegate you’ll have an opportunity to do another TA, but it’s better held until after 1st inception and paired with Hypercharge, Battle Litany, and potion.
There are times where you will have to hold your ninjutsu for a few seconds to get in an extra TA during fights, like in A12S after 2nd Inception, even if doing this means missing an extra mudra. I know what you’re going to say, “Momo, is it really worth missing an entire mudra just for a Trick Attack?” In my opinion, yes. Some people may not agree with my standpoint here and that’s fine. I strongly believe it’s worth getting in an extra TA even if it means missing a Fuma/Raiton.
I’m going to use A11S as an example to explain my reasoning. In this situation, if I didn’t hold the mudra, I would be doing a Fuma Shuriken instead of a Suiton and another Fuma Shuriken right before he does Limit Cut. So two Fuma under no buffs would be 633.6 Potency. You would be missing that last Fuma but instead gaining a Trick Attack. So, it would be Suiton’s potency + Trick Attack, which is 620 potency combined. Now, add in the 4-5 GCDs everyone gets under the Trick. (For reference, my GCDs would be GS + AE + SE + SF + SE, which gives me an additional 214 potency when calculated under TA.) This gives the total potency of the trick attack 834, beating out the double Fuma by 200.4 potency. Depending on the potency of the skills used during the TA, it may or not be better for your personal DPS, but it is definitely better for a raid wide increase.
Let’s talk about multidotting. It’s kind of complicated to explain but easy to execute once you understand it. To start off, we need to know how many GCDs there are in between each refresh of Shadow Fang and Mutilate. At a 2.08 GCD there are 8-9 GCDs between each SF (8 if you refresh at 2-4 seconds, 9 if you refresh <2 seconds.) For Mutilate, there are 13-15 GCDs between each refresh (15 if you refresh after it has fallen off, 14 if you refresh at 1-2 seconds, and 13 if you refresh at 3-4.)
So, now that we know how many GCDs we need to count between each SF and MUT, that means that, on two targets, we can get 3 GCDs of attacks in before we need to refresh SF and 6 GCDs of attacks between each mutilate refresh (with SF refreshes.)
Let’s look at the potency per GCD for each of these skills. MUT only takes 1 GCD to put up, so it has a potency of 360 (366 on the target with slashing debuff). SF requires 2 GCDs to put up, so we take Spinning Edge’s 165 potency and add that to SF’s full duration potency of 440 and we get 605, divide that by 2 and we get 302.5 potency per GCD (312.5 on the target with slashing debuff.)
Now let’s take a look at the potency per GCD for Death Blossom. DB is 110 potency per target (121 with slashing debuff), so, assuming there’s only going to be slashing debuff on the main target, DB will have PPS of 231 on two targets, 341 on 3 targets and 451 on 4 targets.
Now that GCDs are out of the way, let’s talk about mudras. Katon has a potency of 250 (275 under Foes), and Doton has a full-duration potency of 320 (352 under foes) (280 for 1 tick less than full duration). 9/10 times you will be using Katon, but if you get into a fight like A3S/A8S/Nidhogg where adds will be left alive long enough for Doton to tick 21 seconds, then it’s better to use Doton in these situations.
◆ For two targets, keep up Shadow Fang and Mutilate on both targets.
◆ For three targets, keep up Shadow Fang on slashing debuff target, Mutilate on all 3 targets (assuming it will tick 27s), and Death Blossom in between SF GCDs.
◆ For 4+ targets just spam Death Blossom.
RAITON VS FUMA
A very controversial subject among Ninjas is the discussion of which is better: Raiton or Fuma Shuriken. It’s a common misconception that Raiton is always better than Fuma. This is understandable if you are just reading potency numbers and you see that Fuma Shuriken is 240 potency and Raiton is 360. However, Fuma Shuriken, is classified as a physical attack, so it is buffed by the poison you’re using and by the slashing debuff on the target, putting it at a potency of 316.8. Fuma is also buffed by MCH Hypercharge, boosting the potency to 348.8 when HC is active. So we have Raiton which is 360 and Fuma Shuriken which is 316.8 potency (348.8 under HC). Raiton is buffed by Foe’s Requiem which gives it a potency of 396 (432 with Battle Voice).
If Raiton is always higher potency than Fuma Shuriken, even under Hypercharge, why is this a controversial subject? The reason is the GCD clipping that occurs when using Raiton. When a damage animation is activated there is 0.75 seconds before you can start an oGCD action. When calculated with a two sign mudra, the time needed to cast it is 2.50 seconds (longer if you have worse ping than myself), while a one sign mudra only takes 2.00 seconds to activate. That’s a disparity of 0.5 seconds each time I use Raiton over Fuma, and that can be the difference between getting in an extra GCD at the end of a phase or not.
◆ If no buffs are up, use FUMA SHURIKEN
◆ If BfB or TRICK ATTACK is up use FUMA SHURIKEN
◆ If Foes is up, use RAITON. If under the effects of Arrow, use FUMA SHURIKEN
◆ If Hypercharge is up, use FUMA SHURIKEN
◆ If Foes and Hypercharge are both up, use FUMA SHURIKEN
◆ If BV Foes and Hypercharge are both up, us RAITON
First things first, learn how to utilize Shukuchi. In my opinion you should macro this skill. You are able to macro this skill without having any issues in any fight (besides A11S if you don’t position correctly for the Propeller Wind). Examples of places you can use Shukuchi to increase uptime: Steam Roller in A10S, Jumps in A10S, Out Charge in A10S, Propeller Wind in A11S, Add Phase in A12S, Temporal Stasis in A12S, and Inception in A12S.
SYNERGIZING WITH PARTY MEMBERS
Understand your party members job abilities and utility and where they are using them during the fight. When playing at a high level, you want to be able to adjust your Trick Attacks around a DRGs Battle Litany or a MCH/BRD Hypercharge/Foe’s Requiem. Know when TA is essential for raid DPS versus places where you can delay it slightly.
Figure out where the other DPS are burning all their cooldowns during phases and boost the damage even more. A lot of players are under the assumption that holding your Ninjutsu is bad, which is normally the case for your personal damage, but if you need to hold your Ninjutsu so you can use Trick Attack at a selected point in the fight then it’s better for raid DPS if you delay your Ninjutsu for a small amount of GCDs. Remember that Suiton is a 10 second buff.
Be knowledgeable of all tank swaps going on during the fight so you can plan your Shadewalker and Smoke Screen usage ahead of time. Be ready to smoke bomb a DPS if they are getting close to pulling aggro and if you know they have an opener coming up.
Be alert to others TP levels during long fights or if there are deaths, and communicate beforehand if players want goad at certain spots. Try to coordinate all your tools to your party‘s needs.
ADVANCED OPTIMIZATION: GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BUFFS
Normally if Huton is at 41 seconds or more you would want to prioritize Aeolian Edge, but in certain situations you will want to Armor Crush even if it means you’re not getting the full benefit of the Huton extension. The reason behind this is if you have buffs like TA, BfB, or IR coming up and you want to maximize their effects by using Aeolian Edge as much as possible.
You may also want to clip your huton with Armor Crush if you are stockpiling your buffs for certain occasions. For example, in A12S before the 1st inception you’re going to want to pool your buffs and save them till after it and combine them with party wide raid buffs like Hypercharge and Battle Litany. You’re not going to want to waste potency doing an Armor Crush with potency increasing buffs up, so you should refresh Huton with it before the 1st Inception even if you have to clip it by a few seconds. Another scenario in A12S is if you have to do 3 man time gate; Since you have to Limit Break one of the adds and do an opener on the next if you go in with under 50 seconds on your Huton chances are you will likely drop it or have to suffer potency loss because you had to use Duality with Armor Crush.
The last situation where you’ll want to Armor Crush over Aeolian Edge is if there’s going to be a long period of downtime before the boss will be targetable again, so you’ll either need to reset Huton manually with a Mudra or use Armor Crush. A good example of this is in A11S during the active time event. If your Mudra is up before you have to get on the ship and you can’t use it on the boss you can refresh Huton with a Mudra and your Mudra will be back up before the boss is targetable again.
There are also fights where you can map out your GCDs to get the most out of buffs like Balance. In A12S I refresh my Huton at 1 second or below to get the most of the Balance there. Doing this lets me get two extra Aeolian Edges under the Balance instead of wasting it using Armor Crush. In fights like A10S and A11S it’s harder to map out GCDs due to all the mechanic skips, but once you start skipping consistently you should be able to map out your GCDs in certain phases.
YOUR LAST GCD ON THE BOSS…
If the boss is about to die or disappear for a long period of time, and your GCD is fresh (no combo or anything), which skill would you use? I imagine most players would say Spinning Edge. However, if you have one GCD to use and no combo, the best skill to use is actually Aeolian Edge. Uncombo’d Aeolian Edge is a 180 potency attack from the back, where as Spinning Edge is only 150. If you’re in a scenario where you’re forced to the side of the boss and can’t hit the back then uncombo’d Armor Crush is still 10 potency more than Spinning Edge.
Let’s add another GCD into the equation. 2 GCDs before the boss is going to be untargetable and we have no combo started. Now what do we do? Well, we Aeolian Edge twice! Instead of doing Spinning Edge into Gust Slash we will doing back to back uncombo’d Aeolian Edges (180 + 180 = 360) which is still 10 potency stronger than the SE > GS combo (150 + 200 = 350).
“Clipping” refers to reapplying a DoT while a previous application is still active on the target. This reduces the amount of ticks you get from the previously applied DoT. If you clip Shadow Fang at 3 seconds you miss out on the final tick, getting only five ticks instead of the full six. Managing your DoTs and knowing when to refresh them is crucial to your DPS. Normally, you’ll only want to apply Shadow Fang if it will last for at least 4 ticks (9-12 seconds) and Mutilate if it will last for at least 5 ticks (12-15 seconds).
It’s generally advised to avoid applying a DoT effect while it is still affecting the enemy. However, we can take this a step further in DPS optimization by refreshing those DoTs early under buffs such as Trick Attack/BfB/IR or any other type of ability that adds to it’s damage if it means a phase in the fight or the fight itself is ending and you’ll get the full duration of them. It‘s also acceptable to clip DoTs early when the boss is about to take less damage and DoTs will snapshot with their original potency.
SHADEWALKER AND SMOKE SCREEN
It’s crucial that you keep in mind that Shadewalker and Smokescreen are not only used at the start of a fight. Using these skills for aggro control and tank swaps will give your tanks a LOT more room to DPS.
In an optimal raid setting, the WAR will almost always be pulling since they generate more aggro than a DRK can in a short period of time without losing DPS. This method gives you more room to hold Shadewalker for upcoming tank swaps, if need be, instead of just spamming it on the DRK and praying they don’t lose aggro or forcing them to do extra power slashes. Popping a Smoke Screen on a tank during tank swaps or a DPS/ Healer during their openers or situations where boss enmity resets is another good way to utilize this skill. As a Ninja, it’s your job to communicate with your tanks, especially in a top level environment. For tanks to reach their maximum DPS potential and uptime in a high skill level group you need to coordinate with them and talk out the most optimal times to use these skills. Some tank busters require you do tank swaps to hit higher DPS, and using these skills as a support move will help them greatly.
In A12S, for example, I Smoke Screen our WAR after 1st stasis to ensure that he doesn’t pull aggro with Berserk, since the DRK isn’t using Power Slash here. I then use Shadewalker on the WAR after the 2nd stasis, allowing him to provoke with a debuff combo, whether it be Eye or Path. Without Shadewalker here he’d have to combo cancel after Maim and do a Butcher’s Block combo. After the 2nd inception I Shadewalker the WAR when he provokes, and then Smoke Screen him when the DRK provokes back after the tankbuster. Every group does things differently, so coordinate with your tanks and ask how they want to handle tank swaps.
For fights with “no breaks” like A9S and A10S you should use Shadewalker when you have buffs up so it generates more aggro.
Most players are unaware that any buffs used on yourself or other players such as IR, BfB, and Goad actually generate aggro, a small amount, 172 enmity to be exact, but aggro nonetheless. Second Wind and Max Potions generate the most aggro and can be used to maximize Shadewalker potency if you are free to use them. If you’re using a Max Potion to compliment Shadewalker make sure you are not going to be needing a Dexterity Potion for another minute and 7 seconds!
Goad is an ability that restores TP over time for a selected party member. The most optimal way to use this skill is to use it during the first 30-45 seconds of the fight, preferably after the selected players opener is over. Using it early like this maximizes the number of uses you can get during the fight. The exception to this is if you and the player you’re goading have mapped out when they want Goad. In A12S, for example, usually you’ll want to Goad the DRG right before adds so he can AoE more and not run TP dry.
Never cast Goad on a job that uses MP as its primary resource.
More often than not, your WAR will be keeping the slashing debuff sustained on the boss. However, there may be points in the fight where you’ll have to use Dancing Edge to apply the debuff so the WAR can apply Storm’s Path or use an aggro combo to secure enmity. Storm’s Path is usually only used in progression raiding, but there are fights where the WAR may not be able to apply the slashing debuff right away, like A10S, or the EDDs in A11S. If the WAR can’t reapply it before it falls off, or apply it in the first place, he should communicate that with you so you can prepare ahead of time. There are also situations where you and the WAR are attacking different targets and he can’t apply the slashing debuff for you. This happens in A12S during the Generals Might and Time, and in A11S during Lapis Lazuli phase.
Cross-class Mantra is an undervalued skill. Nothing like the traited mantra which MNKs have access too, but still extremely powerful when used with coordinated healers. It’s best used during boss AoEs where healers are throwing out Regens and AoE heals. Even if you’re not coordinating with your healers it doesn’t hurt to use it on cooldown, rather than let it sit unused.
KISS OF THE VIPER/WASP
The different poisons give Ninjas access to one of the more flexible stuns/silences in the game (poisons can be switched freely every 5 seconds.) The majority of the time you’ll want to have Kiss of the Viper on instead of Kiss of the Wasp. With the lack of stun mechanics in Savage, you may as well take the free self heal Mug gives you every 90 seconds. In previous tiers there were a few times where you’d want to switch to Kiss of the Wasp during specific fights so you can stun (Pistons in A3S, Beta Orbs in A6S), but there are an abundance of mechanics that can be silenced (High Voltage in T1, Earthshock in T9, Mind Blast in A6S/ A8S, just to name a few). Long story short; Use Kiss of the Viper unless you know there’s something you need to stun.
NINJA VS MONK VS DRAGOON
When compared to Dragoon and Monk, Ninja has the lowest personal DPS potential but by far the most raid utility.
Ninjas bring a 10% vulnerability up debuff for 10 seconds every 60 seconds. Two enmity control skills, one each to increase/decrease the aggro of a selected party member. A TP restoration ability that ticks for 40 TP every 3 seconds for 30 seconds on one party member every 180 seconds. A 10% Slashing Resistance down debuff (nulled by having a Warrior in the party), a stun/silence, and an AoE ability that increases healing received by 5% for 15 seconds every 120 seconds.
Dragoons bring Battle Litany, an aoe crit buff which increases the party Critical Hit rate by 15% for 20 seconds every 180 seconds. Disembowel which reduces the target‘s piercing resistance by 10%, a constant damage up if a BRD/MCH is in the party, and Mantra, an AoE ability that increases healing received by 5% for 15 seconds every 120 seconds. Dragoons have two stuns as well.
Monks bring Dragon Kick which puts a 10% INT down (nulled by DRK) and 10% Blunt Resistance down on the target and traited Mantra, an AoE ability that increases healing recieved by 20% for 15 seconds every 120 seconds. Monks also have two abilities that can stun, and a silence which can be complicated to use effectively.
In terms of self healing, Dragoons and Monks have access to more abilities that can help them survive. Dragoons can use Bloodbath and Second Wind, Monks can use Bloodbath and traited Second Wind and Ninja unfortunately can only use Second Wind.
Of the three melee, Ninja is the most flexible, in my opinion, barely ahead of Monk. Dragoon is stuck in a linear combo and has little room for switching targets quickly without losing DPS. Monks can debuff a new target quickly, but may struggle at times to hit positionals. NINs, however, have fewer positional requirements than MNK and can switch targets with ease using Dancing Edge.
Weapon Damage: 15.195
GENRAL DPS TIPS
COOLDOWN ALIGNMENT AND PLANNING
I’ll use A9S as an example to explain how I plan out cooldown alignment. Let‘s give the fight a kill time of 3:30. With this information in mind, we know that we’ll only get a maximum of 3 BfBs, 4 IRs and 3 TAs in the fight, as well as 2 Battle Litany, and 2 Hypercharges. Now that we know how many potential skill uses we can get in, we can start mapping. Assuming we get one of each buff off in the opener that leaves us with 2 more BfBs and TAs, 3 more IRs, and 1 BL + HC.
Since we’re only getting one more Battle Litany and Hypercharge we’re going to want to hold both of those cooldowns till after the Full Metal Faust dies to get the most potency out of them. This means we need to have our last BfB and IR line up at least by 3:05 at the latest.
So, now we know we can get 2 IRs and 1 BfB + TA between our 1st opener and the opener after Faust dies. Assuming we use IR on cooldown at 1:02 and 2:02, it will naturally line up with our last opener. That just leaves our BfB and TA. BfB should be coming off cooldown at 1:20, which gives us 20 seconds of free room to use it. You can use your 2nd TA between 1:16 – 2:00, otherwise it won’t be ready for your opener on the boss after Faust.
I hope this kind of explains my thought process behind my cooldown management. I basically just look at where we want bursts during specific parts of the fight and adjust my cooldowns accordingly.
Getting into actually increasing uptime via movement is kind of complicated and requires an understanding of how mechanics and damage work in this game. Every Boss ability in this game either a) checks your position as the cast finishes, or b) checks your position when the animation goes off. It’s just a matter of figuring out which type of ability it is, and mastering the timing. This does NOT mean it’s okay to go out and wipe your group! I would only test things during progression or optimization runs.
The best way to explain how this works is through examples.
Propeller Wind in A11S is a good example of a mechanic that checks your position as the cast finishes. As long as you’re behind the pillar when the Propeller Wind cast completes, you’re free to move back in immediately. You won’t take any damage or get the confusion debuff because the game checked your position as the cast finished, and your position when the animation finishes is irrelevant. The same goes for the In/Out Charges in A10S. As long as you’re in the correct spot when the cast completes, you can move freely as soon as it’s done – no need to wait for the animation.
Stream Roller in A10S and Sacrament in A12S are examples of attacks that check your position as the animation hits. In cases like this you can be inside the Steam Roller or Sacrament hitbox when the cast finishes, as long as you’re safely out of range when the actual animation goes off.
Another way you can increase uptime via movement is by knowing boss patterns and using that to your advantage. In A10S you know the boss is going to jump to the Ice Trap after the 1st charge. In A5S you know the boss is going to dash to the prey target. I usually look at mechanics such as these and think to myself “how can I manipulate this mechanic so I don’t lose as much uptime as other players?” Every encounter has these little opportunities for optimization. Other than that, just make sure you’re always getting your auto attacks off, always spamming your next GCD, and always attacking the boss as soon as possible.
A lot of players are under the 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.
I used to hit a dummy for hours on end and I mean HOURS. I probably have 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. Count your GCDs when hitting a dummy! I know between my 1st and 2nd Trick Attack there are 34 GCDs and between my 2nd and 3rd Trick Attack there are 31 GCDs. Being able to know where you are in your rotation helps out alot. 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, but 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 track. This is a key skill among a lot of top tier players, in my opinion – being able to watch someone’s game play and take little things they do and adapt it to your own style.
I also use FFlogs to look through players cooldown usage and the timeline of their abilities. If they do something different, I’ll try to figure out why they do it and if it’s an improvement or not. If it’s an improvement then I’ll look through my PoVs to see how I can somehow adapt what they do to my own playstyle. I can’t stress enough how important this is to self improvement.
Back in Gordias I would watch Saobucks and other MNK PoVs to try to learn different things. In Midas I would watch hours of other DRGs footage, like Wegente Leth, and Liz Lawine. Sometimes after raid I will just get some food and a drink and play the raid over at 1.5 – 2.0x speed to see where I can do better or adjust certain cooldowns for more raid DPS. I’ve spent so many hours studying videos and logs.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the months <3
Special thanks to U’tyada Tia (Krindor), Dervy Yakimi, Maya Koko, Ez Katka, Wegente Leth, Aya Liz, Shasta Kota, Kyorakun Shunsui, and Matto Kha!
– Momo Kyun