A guide, analysis and discussion of Dragoon

By Naxam Naekovu (Phoenix Server)

FFLogs: https://www.fflogs.com/rankings/character/3041379/latest/#partition=1

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/naxamn

 

Basics

 GCD Priority & Basic Rotation

  1. Keep Heavy Thrust up
  2. Keep Chaos Thrust/Disembowel up
  3. Keep Phlebotomize up
  4. Full Thrust Combo as filler

 

Following this priority system we can form our base rotation, which consists of 10 GCDs and is as follows:

 

Heavy Thrust > Impulse Drive > Disembowel > Chaos Thrust > 4th > Phlebotomize > True Thrust > Vorpal Thrust > Full Thrust > 4th

 

With this rotation, Heavy Thrust and Phlebotomize will be reapplied as they fall off, but Disembowel and Chaos Thrust will both be clipped by about 6 seconds. While clipping by this much of a margin may seem like a bad thing, letting Disembowel fall off is much worse, and doing another Full Thrust is a definite DPS loss (except in the case that the target is about to die or go invulnerable).

Often when having to disengage for mechanics, or when switching targets, you will be left in a position where you can’t simply follow your basic rotation. In these situations you will generally want to use this priority system as a basic guide – you will certainly need to adapt it on the fly in order to fully optimize.

For example, it can be beneficial in certain situations to apply a Chaos Thrust combo to a target even when Heavy Thrust will wear off partway through the combo. This is certainly worth doing when it’s only the 4th combo that does not receive the Heavy Thrust buff, as it gets Disembowel up sooner and still allows a buffed Chaos Thrust. If the Heavy Thrust buff would wear off before Chaos Thrust, whether to go ahead should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

If you are running the increasingly popular BRD+MCH composition, I would argue that getting Disembowel up faster is certainly more beneficial for the group, but losing 15% on your single most powerful GCD doesn’t feel good. All in all, it depends on many different factors such as the length of time the current phase will last, which oGCDs are available, whether it’s a burst phase for your BRD/MCH, and a multitude of other variables that would be almost impossible to fully discuss. I will attempt to give further insight on how your thought process should go when dealing with situations like this in the Advanced Concepts section.

 

Openers

Basic Opener w/Potion:

HT (BL + BfB) > ID (IR + BotD) > Dis (Pot) > CT (Leg + PS) > 4th (Jump) > Phleb (Spine) > TT (DfD) > VT (Gsk + LS) > FT

 

This is the standard opener for Dragoon. It involves popping your 20-second cooldowns first, then your shorter cooldowns. This way all your oGCDs are buffed by the cooldowns, and your potion is active for Chaos Thrust and Full Thrust. Geirskogul is used before Life Surge here so that it gains the benefit of Internal Release and Trick Attack.

 

BfB/IR Swap Opener w/Potion:

HT (BL + IR) > ID (BotD + BfB) > Dis (Pot) > CT (Leg + PS) > 4th (Jump) > Phleb (Spine) > TT (DfD) > VT (Gsk + LS) > FT

 

While I personally don’t agree with this opener, I decided to add it anyway for completion’s sake. The idea behind it is that you get the 2nd Heavy Thrust (boosted by Disembowel) within Blood for Blood instead of the opening Impulse Drive (boosting a 170*1.1 = 187 potency move instead of 180). The problem I have with this opener is that it means Internal Release falls off before Geirskogul, which, while reliant on RNG to have any effect, is a much bigger loss on average than using Blood for Blood the previous GCD.

 

Fey Wind Opener (allows earlier use of 2nd Geirskogul):

HT (BL + BfB) > ID (Pot) > Dis (BotD + IR) > CT (Leg + PS) > 4th (Jump) > Phleb (Spine) > TT (DfD) > VT (LS + Gsk) > FT

 

This opener is used with Fey Wind in order to be able to get an earlier 2nd Geirskogul without dropping Blood of the Dragon. Useful in A9S to get a Geirskogul on the first set of adds without dropping significant single-target damage in the opener.

 

Skill Descriptions & Usage/Priority Notes

GCDs:

Heavy Thrust

 

  • 170 Potency
  • Flank Positional (100 Potency if missed)
  • Increases your damage by 15% for 24 seconds

 

 Impulse Drive

 

  • 180 Potency
  • Combos into Disembowel

 

Disembowel

 

  • 220 Potency
  • Reduces the Piercing resistance of the target by 10% (increases all direct damage by you and any bards/machinists on the target; DoT damage is not affected)
  • Combos into Chaos Thrust

 

Chaos Thrust

 

  • 250 Initial Potency
  • Rear Positional (200 Initial Potency if missed)
  • Applies a 30-second DoT with a potency of 35 every 3 seconds
  • Total potency: 600

 

Phlebotomize

 

  • 170 Initial Potency
  • Applies a 24-second DoT with a potency of 30 every 3 seconds
  • Total potency: 410

 

True Thrust

 

  • 150 Potency
  • Combos into Vorpal Thrust

 

Vorpal Thrust

 

  • 200 Potency
  • Combos into Full Thrust

 

Full Thrust

 

  • 360 Potency

 

  Fang & Claw / Wheeling Thrust

 

  • 290 Potency
  • Flank Positional for Fang & Claw; Rear Positional for Wheeling Thrust (200 Potency if missed)
  • While Blood of the Dragon is active, a combo finisher (Chaos Thrust or Full Thrust) will result in either Fang & Claw or Wheeling Thrust being proc’d. It is completely random which one will proc, and you need to react to this in order to perform the correct positional.
  • Commonly referred to as the “4th” combo skill as a collective term for the 2 skills

 

Ring of Thorns

 

  • 100 Base Potency
  • 150 Potency if combo’d from Heavy Thrust (positional on Heavy Thrust must be met to combo)
  • Requires no target, performs a circle AoE around the user with a radius of 5 yalms

 

Doom Spike

 

  • 160 Potency
  • Can be used from a range of up to 10 yalms, and extends to hit anything up to 10 yalms in front of you in a narrow line AoE

 

Offensive oGCDs:

Jump

 

  • 200 Potency, boosted by 30% while under the effect of Blood of the Dragon
  • 30-second cooldown
  • Long animation lock, cannot use any other oGCDs with this without clipping the GCD
  • Notes:
    • Highest potency per second on a single target, so should generally be a very high priority
    • Cannot double weave, so it could possibly be pushed back if there are numerous other oGCDs available that are able to be weaved, but generally you will want to use this first anyway in most situations if possible
    • A lot of the time you might be forced to push this back due to AoEs or other mechanics, and movement-heavy phases

Leg Sweep

 

  • 130 Potency
  • 20-second cooldown
  • Stuns the target for 3 seconds (2 seconds in PvP)
  • Notes:
    • Very short cooldown and low-medium potency per second, so should be weaved in whenever possible in general
    • Only instance where you would hold this is when you need to stun something (e.g. A7S hearts)

Life Surge

 

  • Ensures a critical hit on the next weaponskill (GCD) used, and heals yourself for the damage dealt, up to 10% of your max HP
  • 50-second cooldown
  • Notes:
    • Should only be used before a Full Thrust or 4th combo, so considered high priority at those times; if the opportunity is missed there is either lower potency gained for the skill or it has to be delayed for a significant length of time

Power Surge

 

  • Increases the damage dealt by the next Jump or Spineshatter Dive by 50%
  • 60-second cooldown
  • Notes:
    • Always pair with every other Jump (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.)
    • The actual buff lasts for 10 seconds, which means it can be applied ahead of time, leaving later oGCDs open for other things, which can be very useful during burst phases
    • If you screw up and accidentally use Jump without Power Surge, you can use it on Spineshatter Dive, but don’t plan to do this

Spineshatter Dive

 

  • 170 Potency, boosted by 30% while under the effect of Blood of the Dragon
  • 60-second cooldown
  • Moves the user to the target (can be used from a range of 20 yalms)
  • Long animation lock, not as long as Jump but it is still not feasible to use other oGCDs with this without clipping your GCD
  • Notes:
    • Low potency per second, so if movement is needed then this should be saved for moving back to the boss (or to an add), otherwise can be used either on cooldown or paired with Blood for Blood, depending on fight/phase length and whether you need to use it for movement later
    • See Handling Movement section for more info

Dragonfire Dive

 

  • 250 Potency AoE
  • 120-second cooldown
  • Moves the user to the target (can be used from a range of 20 yalms)
  • Long animation lock, not as long as Jump but it is still not feasible to use other oGCDs with this without clipping your GCD
  • Notes:
    • Low potency per second on a single target
    • This skill is generally best used for AoE, or under buffs in burst phases, but it can also be used for movement like Spineshatter Dive
    • See Handling Movement and AoE Cooldowns sections for more info

Blood of the Dragon

 

  • 60-second cooldown
  • Applies a 15-second buff that increases the damage of Jump and Spineshatter Dive by 30%, and also allows the use of Fang & Claw/Wheeling Thrust after a combo finisher (Full Thrust/Chaos Thrust), which will increase the remaining time by 15 seconds, up to a maximum of 30 seconds
  • Notes:
    • You should use this skill close to or directly before your combo finisher
    • See Maintaining Blood of the Dragon and Blood of the Dragon/Geirskogul Usage and Optimization for more details

Geirskogul

 

  • 200 Potency line AoE
  • 10-second cooldown
  • Consumes 10 seconds of your Blood of the Dragon timer
  • Can be used from a range of up to 15 yalms, and extends to hit anything up to 15 yalms in front of you in a narrow line AoE
  • Notes:
    • High potency per second, but its flexibility means it can be pushed back a few GCDs without loss to allow other oGCDs to get on cooldown faster
    • See Maintaining Blood of the Dragon, Blood of the Dragon/Geirskogul Usage and Optimization and AoE Cooldowns for more details

Mercy Stroke

 

  • 200 Potency
  • 90-second cooldown
  • Can only be used while the target has 20% or less HP
  • Notes:
    • Due to the nature of this skill’s requirement and its lengthy cooldown, it can usually only be used once or twice on a boss, but can often be used earlier in the fight on adds. Using this skill on an add early in the fight should definitely be taken advantage of, as it is essentially a free 200 extra potency that would not be gained otherwise.
    • Mercy Stroke does not necessarily have to be used immediately once the boss reaches 20%. If the boss will die within 90 seconds of reaching 20%, then it is better to use this skill under Blood for Blood (and possibly other buffs) to maximise its potential. If, however, you are sure you will get a 2nd use, getting those two unbuffed uses is certainly better than a single buffed use.

Blood for Blood

 

  • 80-second cooldown
  • Applies a 20-second buff that increases your damage dealt by 30% while also increasing your damage taken by 15%
  • Notes:
    • This is by far your most powerful personal DPS cooldown, and should be used often; missing a use of this cooldown over the length of a fight is a serious loss to DPS
    • Be careful with use of this while learning a fight, as a wrongly-timed use can easily result in your death. Once a fight is on farm you should be able to use this more freely, but be smart about its use and do think about your healers.
    • See Blood for Blood Usage & Optimization for more details

Battle Litany

 

  • 180-second cooldown
  • Applies a 20-second buff to yourself and all party members within 15 yalms that increases critical hit rate by 15%
  • Notes:
    • While not your most powerful personal DPS cooldown, it is the most powerful for raid DPS (assuming an 8 player party) and it should be used such that it benefits your party as much as possible, not only yourself

Internal Release

 

  • 60-second cooldown
  • Applies a 15-second buff to yourself that increases critical hit rate by 10%
  • Notes:
    • Relatively weak buff with a short cooldown, should be used on cooldown with your other 60-second cooldowns

 

Utility oGCDs:

 Invigorate

 

  • 120-second cooldown
  • Restores 500 TP
  • Notes:
    • Use as soon as your TP drops low enough that one TP tick will bring you only to 500 or less TP (usually happens around the 3rd Phlebotomize, varies depending on uptime, Fey Wind, etc.)

Keen Flurry

 

  • 90-second cooldown
  • Increases parry rate by 80% for 20 seconds
    • Use when any heavy physical damage is incoming (examples include Mirages in A6S and A8S, Single Drill, and Earthshakers in various fights)

Second Wind

 

  • 120-second cooldown
  • Restores your HP with a cure potency of 450
  • Notes:
    • Most effective used to help out your healers when you are targetted by damage that does not affect the entire group (e.g. Preys at the start of A12S), or when you have Blood for Blood up during sustained or multiple AoE damage
    • You can also use it to help recover from a mechanics mistake, such as standing in an AoE (insert DRG joke)

Bloodbath

 

  • 90-second cooldown
  • Absorbs 25% of damage dealt as HP for 15 seconds
  • Notes:
    • Similar usage to Second Wind, but offers more overall healing and does so over time. Treat it like you would a HoT (Heal over Time). Can be used to top yourself up so your healers don’t have to waste a GCD on you (e.g. after baiting the middle Double Drill in A6S/A8S).

Mantra

 

  • 120-second cooldown
  • Increases healing received by 5% to yourself and all party members within 7 yalms for 12 seconds
  • Notes:
    • Try to coordinate with your healers where you should use this (and with your other melee DPS). Generally during periods of high raidwide damage, where having some extra healing output or extra mitigation would help.

 

 Maintaining Blood of the Dragon

Keeping Blood of the Dragon up at all times is extremely important for your DPS, not only giving you a passive 30% damage bonus to Jump (your highest PPS oGCD) and Spineshatter Dive, but also giving access to the powerful 4th combo (Fang & Claw/Wheeling Thrust), which is not only high potency but rounds out your rotation allowing you to clip Heavy Thrust and Phlebotomize perfectly. This means that dropping Blood of the Dragon creates an awkward rotation that is a significant DPS loss. If you do end up in that situation however, the optimal rotation without 4th combo is as follows:

 

Heavy Thrust > Impulse Drive > Disembowel > Chaos Thrust > Phlebotomize > True Thrust > Vorpal Thrust > Full Thrust > True Thrust > Vorpal Thrust > Full Thrust

 

Of course, another large DPS increase comes from Geirskogul, which uses up Blood of the Dragon’s duration. Use of Geirskogul at the wrong times is the most common cause of dropping Blood of the Dragon, so it is very important to be familiar with where your timer is – and where it should be – during certain points of your rotation in order to be able to refresh it with a 4th combo. This tends to be best learned by watching your timers and experimenting while doing your rotation. As an example, if your timer reaches 23 seconds after a refresh (4th combo), it is completely safe to use Geirskogul and still be able to keep Blood of the Dragon by following your normal rotation. It can be safe to do so with 22 seconds, and most often it is (assuming a 2.40s GCD), but if you’re at 22-turning-to-21 seconds, it might be unsafe to use Geirskogul. This also depends on your latency so I recommend playing around and getting a feel for it.

Ideally, you should be getting 3 Geirskoguls every 60 seconds, at which point you should use Blood of the Dragon again to refresh your timer. Your Blood of the Dragon timer is actually quite lenient in allowing 3 Geirskoguls, still being able to manage even with some downtime from mechanics, etc. That being said, in cases where you have missed significant GCD uptime, you may not be able to hit your 3rd Geirskogul before the 60-second refresh point. In situations like this, it is often beneficial to do one more combo and then use the last Geirskogul before refreshing (as long as this does not negatively impact Blood of the Dragon timings later in the fight).

 

AoE GCDs

Dragoon has 2 AoE GCDs; Ring of Thorns and Doom Spike. Both of these skills require large amounts of TP to use, but can deliver very high total damage when used on a group of enemies. These skills are most often used during trash packs in dungeons, or for large numbers of enemies in the add phase of a raid or trial (A12S and Zurvan Ex for example). It is generally ill-advised to use them when there is a boss available to hit, as Dragoon has among the least efficient GCD AoE of any class (it loses more damage to the boss than most other classes do when AoE’ing), so it is generally preferred to let the healers and ranged DPS AoE, and for other classes to use any oGCD AoEs that they have instead. An example of such a situation is A9S during any point where multiple adds are up.

 

Ring of Thorns

 

This skill is generally only used after being combo’d from Heavy Thrust, as it is more TP-efficient than Doom Spike when combo’d, but when uncombo’d it is not only less TP-efficient but does significantly less DPS.

 

Doom Spike

 

This is your most commonly used AoE GCD, as it does the most DPS and is also the most TP-efficient to spam. The shape of the AoE requires that you position yourself well to be able to hit as many enemies as possible – usually trash packs don’t just line up in a row. Try to pay attention to the width of the AoE and experiment to get a feel for where you should be positioning yourself in order to hit the maximum number of enemies.

 

Advanced Concepts

This section is less of a guide and more of an analysis and discussion of dragoon concepts. The idea is to convey my thought process while choosing how to react to various situations, and to hopefully allow you to make informed decisions about what to do in similar circumstances. Following a set of rules will not improve your skills past a certain point; becoming a great player means reaching an understanding of why top players do things a certain way, and being able to apply those concepts to your own gameplay.

 

Regarding Skill Speed

We are often told that a dragoon’s Skill Speed should be around 600, but why?

Firstly, this level of Skill Speed gives us a GCD of 2.40s. Our base rotation consists of 10 GCDs, including 2 skills (Heavy Thrust and Phlebotomize) that have a 24s timer. This means that Heavy Thrust and Phlebotomize will be perfectly clipped with the recommended GCD timer.

We can also split our rotation into 2 sub-rotations, consisting of 5 GCDs each (Heavy Thrust > Impulse Drive > Disembowel > Chaos Thrust > 4th) followed by (Phlebotomize > True Thrust > Vorpal Thrust > Full Thrust > 4th) with each including a full combo, meaning that Blood of the Dragon can be refreshed during either sub-rotation.

Each of these sub-rotations will last exactly 12s with a 2.40 GCD, meaning that after performing 5 of them, Blood of the Dragon (given its 60s cooldown) will be in a perfect place to refresh.

It also means that we have a Full Thrust or Chaos Thrust combo (with 4th combo skill from Blood of the Dragon) every 12s. 5 combos then brings this up to exactly 60s, perfect for reapplication of Blood of the Dragon.

 

High Skill Speed

A lot of the time a dragoon’s gear combination includes a lot more Skill Speed (SkS) than is normally desirable. This has a few effects on our rotation. Most are benign and don’t require tweaking anything to cope, but the timing of Blood of the Dragon refreshes will change significantly. I’m going to be talking about roughly a 750 Skill Speed basepoint (2.35s GCD) but this will apply to a range of Skill Speed above that point also, as well as some below it given low latency.

How to handle Blood of the Dragon refreshes with high SkS is actually quite simple. Since the first Blood of the Dragon in our standard opener is before (i.e. 1 GCD before the latest it can be), the 2nd application can still be used after 5 combos, as we have one GCD for leeway. On the 3rd application of Blood of the Dragon however, we can do something quite different to make use of the higher SkS. For this to work, the 2nd Blood of the Dragon needs to be applied as late as possible before the combo finisher. Geirskoguls are used as normal, doing 3 in 60 seconds, but we won’t refresh Blood of the Dragon after the 5th combo. Instead, simply let the combo run through and refresh the timer again with a 4th combo, then do a 4th Geirskogul and refresh Blood of the Dragon on the 6th combo.

The end result of this is 4 Geirskoguls in 6 combos, which at a GCD of 2.35s is 70.5s. Compared to our usual 3 Geirskoguls in 60s, this gives us more Geirskoguls over time, which adds up.

 

Handling Movement

Why is handling movement as a melee so important? Arguably the most crucial part of maintaining good DPS as a melee is simply uptime; this includes GCDs, autoattacks and oGCDs. Movement is generally the biggest factor when it comes to maintaining uptime, so learning how to optimize your movement is key to good DPS (obviously this only applies in fights where you have to move away from the boss, or the boss moves from you – so it’s essentially irrelevant for a fight like, say, A9S).

Dragoon’s jumps give us the most flexible movement options of all the melees, but this comes with the price of being by far the most complex to optimize properly.

Spineshatter Dive

Spineshatter Dive is usually the most commonly used movement option for Dragoon. Being on a 60-second cooldown means it is available frequently, and because it has a low potency per second you don’t lose much by holding onto it; the extra uptime that its movement gives will generally outweigh the loss from holding it.

Dragonfire Dive

Having a second gap-closer is extremely useful, allowing us to make multiple jumps in quick succession if needed. Dragonfire Dive has twice the cooldown of Spineshatter Dive, meaning it’s available much less often – and it is an AoE, which can often mean that it is beneficial to have this skill for an AoE situation and use your other options for movement. See the AoE cooldown section for more info on this.

In some cases it can actually be worthwhile to save Dragonfire Dive over Spineshatter Dive as a gap-closer, provided you know when you’ll need it. While Dragonfire Dive has higher overall potency than Spineshatter, it actually has a lower potency per second on a single target. This means that saving Dragonfire Dive instead of Spineshatter for a similar length of time can be a gain on average. However, in actual practice the gain will only occur in situations where you don’t lose a use of Dragonfire Dive over the length of the fight, but would have missed a Spineshatter Dive if you had saved that instead. Other factors come into the choice as well, such as AoE and buff alignments, but this is the most important consideration.

In order to fully utilize the two Dive skills it’s important to map out where you need gap-closers, where your buffs are, and where any potential AoE opportunities are. Even though aligning these skills with buffs can be very important for DPS, it’s generally still better to use them as movement. For example, in A12S after first Inception there’s a burst window, but using Spineshatter Dive to move quickly to the boss and start your GCDs faster is much better than walking there in order to save Spineshatter for buffs (of course, you might consider Elusive Jump here, but that would leave you without any movement options for the second Inception).

 

Elusive Jump

Elusive Jump is the most flexible movement option, yet also the most difficult to properly incorporate into a fight scenario. Elusive Jump will always move you a set distance backwards, which makes it unique among Dragoon movement options in that it does not require a target, and does not deal any damage. The latter means there is no potential DPS loss in saving it for movement, so in theory it should be our primary movement option when available. However, in practice it can be rather awkward to use, having to accurately turn your character’s back to the area you want to move to, and having to gauge the distance that you will jump back. Turning your character also takes time, so this skill is much better used proactively rather than reactively, as your movement will be delayed significantly if you take the time to position and turn yourself. If you are chasing a target, then in general using your targeted gap-closers (Spineshatter/Dragonfire) is much easier to execute efficiently and is usually a faster option, which in turn can allow you to gain more uptime.

Despite these limitations, Elusive Jump’s ability to be used without respect to a target gives it a unique advantage. This allows it to be used to move away from the boss or in other situations, rather than only moving directly to the boss. One such application is in A12S for the first Temporal Stasis; by using Elusive Jump to move back to the edge for the Defamation mechanic, you can squeeze in a 10th GCD on the boss instead of just 9. (https://clips.twitch.tv/DeterminedZanyDadCoolStoryBro)

It is also possible to chain an Elusive Jump into a Spineshatter or Dragonfire to rapidly cross longer distances. A4S is a prime example of this; after a Quarantine it is impossible to cross to the back legs with just one jump, so using an Elusive to close the distance and a Spineshatter/Dragonfire to finish will considerably shorten downtime.

 

Jump

While it may seem like the basic Jump skill cannot be used for movement due to the fact that it returns you to your former position, as well as the lengthy animation lock, there are a couple of interesting things to note. First, using Jump will lock your position at the start of its animation, which means it can actually stop you partway through a knockback, and land you much closer to the boss. The issue with this use is that it can be very hard to time properly and at worst will force you to delay your GCD in order to nail the timing, which essentially defeats the purpose. All in all, this method is rather sketchy and unreliable, so it is advised to use other skills for this purpose instead. That being said, if you find yourself in a position where you are being knocked back with no movement options left available, it’s worth giving it a shot (A10S Steam Roller progression springs to mind).

Secondly, if your GCD is available, but you are well away from the boss, it is possible to use your GCD while partway through the Jump animation. This trick, while difficult to use effectively, can actually be quite useful while still learning a fight as it will be difficult to know when to save gap-closers. Due to the animation lock it will likely result in some downtime (and will almost certainly result in lost autoattacks), but if used correctly it will still increase uptime over simply having to walk. Again, it is certainly more effective to use gap-closers, but I feel that this should not be overlooked in niche situations.

 

AoE Cooldowns

Dragoons have 2 AoE cooldowns, off the GCD: Geirskogul and Dragonfire Dive. In order to maximize their potential damage you need to consider how to manage their use.

Dragonfire Dive

Dragonfire Dive is an incredibly versatile skill which is often wasted by being used on a single target. In some fights doing this actually is the best use of the skill, but there are many cases where holding it is beneficial to DPS. DfD is both an AoE ability and a gap-closer, which means there can be multiple purposes for holding it, but in general AoE is what it will be held for most often. With 250 potency it is our strongest single AoE ability, but comes with quite a lengthy cooldown of 2 minutes. Holding AoE oGCDs in order to hit 2 targets instead of 1 is frequently a DPS gain, provided the skill is not held for longer than its own cooldown (i.e. don’t hold Dragonfire Dive for longer than 2 minutes, as you could’ve gotten another free use out of it).  One way to think about it which is not entirely accurate but still useful, is that when holding DfD in order to hit 2 targets instead of 1, you’ve doubled its effectiveness. This is not always true, such as when looking at it used in the standard opener. Since in that case Dragonfire Dive is buffed, holding it could be a DPS loss if it causes you to miss a DfD over the length of the fight. Even so, it’s still sometimes beneficial to save your DfD in the opener. For example, holding Dragonfire Dive in A9S for the first set of adds can be a nice gain, though whether this is worth it for the group depends on how much AoE is coming out from the others.

 

Geirskogul

Geirskogul’s range is very different from Dragonfire Dive’s, because it has a line AoE rather than a circular one. This actually increases dragoon’s versatility for AoE by quite a lot. Geirskogul has a fairly large range (15 yalms), and everything in a line directly from you to the target, ending at 15y from your character, will be hit. The line is tight, but this allows you to hit multiple enemies that are far apart.

A difficulty with this is being able to aim your Geirskogul through one enemy and towards a second one some distance away. One way of making it easier is to either position the closer enemy between yourself and the far enemy, or to stand within the hitbox of the close enemy, then target the far enemy directly between a GCD, fire the Geirskogul then target back to the main (close) enemy.

Unfortunately doing this this is not ideal, as not only can it be somewhat difficult to switch targets so quickly (though it does become easier with some practice; using the enemy list can be more effective than tab-targetting when there are a lot of mobs on your screen) but you can also potentially lose auto attacks from switching targets. It is therefore higher potential DPS to simply aim your Geirskogul through to the next target, but if this method will get you an extra hit with Geirskogul where you would not otherwise be able to, it is certainly beneficial to do it.

That all being said, it’s important to note that if the AoE damage gained would cause overkill (e.g. Deathflare at the end would’ve killed the mobs anyway), or if it would be more efficient for other classes to use their AoE instead, it would be better to use the Dragonfire Dive and Geirskogul skills under buffs for greater damage on the boss (this generally applies mostly to Dragonfire Dive; due to Geirskogul’s flexibility it can generally be saved for an AoE situation with minimal or no loss on the boss).

 

Blood of the Dragon/Geirskogul Usage and Optimization

As I talked about earlier, you should aim to get 3 Geirskoguls in per 60s Blood of the Dragon cycle (except in the case of high SkS as explored in Regarding Skill Speed). The actual timing of when these skills should be used is generally quite flexible, provided you do not use Geirskogul with too little time on Blood of the Dragon (safely 23s after a refresh with 600 sks, 22s being possible but risky) or “overflow” your Blood of the Dragon timer (i.e. using a 4th skill refresh while your Blood of the Dragon timer is over 15s). Some overflow can be fine, but this further limits the flexibility of Geirskogul’s timing.  Still, Geirskogul can be used at very different times in a cycle.  This means you can manipulate your Geirskogul timing in order to optimize damage output from the skill.

 

Single-target Dummy Environment

The only factors that will affect Geirskogul damage output in a dummy parse are Blood for Blood and Internal Release. Obviously, BfB is much more potent, so you want as many Geirskoguls as you can within this buff. Due to the nature of the timing of the first Blood for Blood, you cannot get 2 Geirskoguls within it without dropping Blood of the Dragon – but it is perfectly possible to get 2 Geirskoguls in every subsequent BfB. Given a normal 60s Blood of the Dragon cycle, delay the first Geirskogul in your second Blood of the Dragon (i.e. the 4th overall Geirskogul) until Blood for Blood. This will allow you to use that Geirskogul within BfB, and still have enough duration on Blood of the Dragon to do a further Geirskogul without dropping it. The next Geirskoguls to be within Blood for Blood will be the 2nd and 3rd Geirskoguls in the third Blood of the Dragon (i.e. the 8th and 9th ones overall). This means you will use your 7th Geirskogul, then save your Blood of the Dragon until BfB to do your 8th, and the 9th will be used to deplete the last of the Blood of the Dragon timer, just as the Blood of the Dragon skill comes off cooldown for a full refresh.

Due to the timing of IR and Blood of the Dragon, at ~600 SkS it is also possible to delay the final Geirskogul before cycle refresh until after using IR, allowing this Geirskogul to be buffed when it otherwise would not be. If timed correctly, both 6th and 7th Geirskoguls will be able to fit under the 3rd IR. The buffs given to Geirskoguls in a 3 minute rotation are therefore as follows:

 

Now, it is very important to keep in mind that this is NOT the be-all and end-all of what your Geirskoguls should look like in a fight. There can be many factors in a raid that will affect optimal Geirskogul usage; AoE situations, Trick Attack, Hypercharge, Balance, boss buffs/debuffs (such as in A5S) and also Arrow to some extent. This is quite a lot to consider, especially when some of these possibilities are variable in timing depending on mechanics (Trick Attack) or just completely random (Balance), not to mention dependant on group composition (Trick Attack/Hypercharge/Balance). This makes it practically impossible to suggest rotations for every fight and every possibility with regards to buffs/debuffs. Thus, these guidelines are intended to be an easy-to-understand, practical example that shows the thought process and methods of optimizing damage from Geirskogul. Buffs and debuffs from other sources will be discussed in more detail in another section.

In regards to Geirskogul’s AoE potential, we can consider a situation in which you could use Geirskogul in order to seize the opportunity of hitting an additional target (e.g. A10S Lamebrix and A11S E.D.D.) instead of using it under a buff. Generally speaking, there’s never going to be enough buffs/debuffs up mid-fight for a Geirskogul to hit twice as much as it would if it was held, so we can assume here that the overall potency that the Geirskogul brings will be higher if it is held for the add in order to hit both boss and add.

It can also be noted that in certain situations, such as when the boss is about to become untargetable, it can be beneficial to skip Phlebotomize in your rotation if it will allow you to use another Geirskogul before downtime starts.

 

Switching to a New Target / Adds

Is it worth using Chaos Thrust on this new add?

Generally speaking, it is only ever worth using a FT combo on a new target (assuming starting from no combo) when the target will last exactly 3 GCDs. After 1 or 2 GCDs, the start of the CT combo has more potency, and given 4 or more GCDs (assuming Blood of the Dragon is up), the CT combo becomes superior, due primarily to the effects of Disembowel. If you miss your CT positional, 4 GCDs will not net you more personal DPS, however provided that your BRD/MCH is attacking the same target, it will provide higher raid DPS.

It can be very beneficial to prep a Disembowel for a new add as your first GCD; this is optimal for both personal DPS and more importantly raid DPS. The sooner you get a Disembowel in, the more damage you’ll be giving the BRD/MCH in your group, which is just as important (especially as the meta is moving towards BRD+MCH compositions). Doing this can often mean altering your rotation slightly to allow for it. An example would be A8S, where under normal circumstances the Steam Regulator will spawn just after Disembowel. To be able to apply Disembowel to the regulator immediately, the most efficient thing to do is to apply Phlebotomize after HT to buffer a GCD. While this clips Phleb by half its duration, it is still the highest potency single GCD you can do at that point. There are other ways to buffer your GCD and different situations will call for different choices. It is up to you to make the best judgement for the situation.

Is it worth using Phlebotomize on this new add? / What rotation should I use on a new add?

This is very situational; it depends on a few factors. Is this add your sole target? (i.e. do you need to devote all your GCDs to this add and kill it as fast as possible?) How many GCDs will this add last? Will skipping Phlebotomize allow you to use an early Geirskogul which will hit 2 targets (and wouldn’t otherwise)?

It would be very tedious to detail every possible situation, so I will try to give an overview of my line of thinking in these situations. If I am not solely attacking the add in question, I will generally try to apply Disembowel/Chaos Thrust as soon as possible, Geirskogul through the add to the boss, Impulse Drive the add and proceed to reapply Disembowel/Chaos Thrust on the boss to ensure it doesn’t drop. The most prominent example of this is E.D.D. in A11S.

Skipping Phleb in that case allows a Geirskogul on 2 targets as well as the opener, which becomes a larger gain than Phlebotomize would be, especially considering the short duration it will tick for. In fact, in this case depending on how long the add lasts, even not considering the Geirskogul, Phlebotomize can be a loss. The consideration of whether Phlebotomize is a gain here or not depends on these 2 factors; will using it prevent you from using a Geirskogul with 2 targets, and will it tick long enough to be worth the cast? It’s worth noting that you can also apply Phlebotomize to the boss here if it is not already ticking, which takes out the consideration of whether it will tick long enough to be worthwhile (provided the boss isn’t about to become invincible or jump).

Now, what if I needed to focus my full attention on the add in question, to burst it down as fast as possible? An example might be E.D.D. in early progression at at low item level. I would, of course, apply Disembowel and Chaos Thrust immediately, but after my 4th there is a question of whether I use Phleb or go straight into my Full Thrust combo (for the sake of demonstrating a point, I will disregard the Geirskogul issue for now, even though it would play a part in this argument). In this case, whether I use Phleb depends on what my last GCD on the add would/could be (in this example, the last GCD before Self-Destruct is cast). If my last GCD would be Full Thrust or 4th without the Phleb (i.e. add lasting 3 or 4 GCDs after previous 4th), the Phleb is not worth it, as in that time it does not do more damage than the Full Thrust or 4th that is effectively replacing as a GCD on the add. If, however, the add lasts 5 GCDs after the previous 4th, Phleb would be worthwhile, as in this case the Phleb is taking the place of the GCD after the last 4th, which would otherwise be an Impulse Drive or Heavy Thrust at best. In the case of 1 GCD, the highest potency would of course be Impulse Drive, and for 2 GCDs the highest potency directly for that target would be Impulse Drive > Disembowel, but I would argue that Phleb > Impulse Drive or Impulse Drive > Impulse Drive would be better in any situation where there is a follow-up target, as it is a minimal loss to potency on the initial target, but a massive increase in potency to the follow-up target to immediately apply Disembowel.

We were ignoring Geirskogul here before, but let’s bring it back and look at the 5 GCD scenario again. If you use Phleb here, you would get a potency increase from your GCDs as discussed earlier, but you delay a Geirskogul here until after the add has passed. This essentially means losing 200 potency on the add in question, which is more than the gain in potency from GCDs in using Phleb. Ergo, Phleb is not worth it in this scenario either, but it would be in a similar situation where using the Phleb would not cost you the early Geirskogul.

 

Note: I can’t actually remember how many GCDs that E.D.D takes before self-destructing. It’s a moot point at this time, I was just trying to link it to a real game situation to make it easier to understand somewhat.

 

Blood for Blood Usage & Optimization

Blood for Blood is an incredibly powerful cooldown with the Dragoon trait, giving +30% damage for 20 seconds on a fairly short 80-second cooldown. The key thing to note here when deciding where to use this skill is that if you use it just before your next GCD, it will affect 9 GCDs (see http://i.imgur.com/FNPJxrp.png for the proper timing). Getting this extra GCD is very important, and you should always aim for this with every use. Now, what does this mean for the placement of Blood for Blood in your rotation? Well, the rotation on a single target is 10 GCDs, which means that the only GCD that will not get the effect of Blood for Blood is the one used just before the buff’s application. As such, it is best to simply use it after one of your weaker GCDs, such as True Thrust, Heavy Thrust or Impulse Drive.

You should aim to get a use of Jump within every Blood for Blood, and preferably 2 Geirskoguls – this is not always possible, but at least 1 Geirskogul – and also one Leg Sweep, which should happen naturally since the cooldown is the same as the duration of Blood for Blood.

If used on cooldown, your third Blood for Blood will be up just before your second Battle Litany. In most cases, it is beneficial to hold onto your Blood for Blood for a short time in order to stack it with Litany, as these buffs multiply each other’s effectiveness.

 

Buffs/Debuffs From Other Sources

This subject was touched on briefly in the Blood of the Dragon/Geirskogul Usage and Optimization section, but will be covered here in more detail with a more broad scope. There are 3 main abilities we’ll be looking at here; Trick Attack, Hypercharge and The Balance.

Trick Attack is applied by Ninja, and is a debuff on a target that increases all incoming damage by 10% for 10 seconds. DoTs are snapshotted with the increase during this time. Trick Attack has a 60-second cooldown but cannot always be applied immediately after coming off cooldown due to a reliance on Mudras and requiring a rear positional.

Hypercharge is applied by Machinist. Technically it’s a buff applied on their turret which then applies a debuff, but basically it’s a debuff that increases physical damage on the target by 10%, and it lasts 27-30s (don’t be fooled by the 10-second duration on the debuff, as it’ll be constantly applied for 17-20 seconds depending on ticks). DoT’s are also snapshotted under this debuff. Hypercharge has a 2-minute cooldown and generally will be used on cooldown, but can be held to line up with burst.

The Balance is a buff applied to players by Astrologian. When used as an AoE (which it should be as much as possible) it increases all players’ damage dealt by 10% for 30 seconds, but can be extended on the group by 10 seconds, and can be further extended on a single player by 15 seconds. Balance can also be used as a single target buff for +20% damage dealt, or +30% when enhanced.

Trick Attack and Hypercharge should be used consistently at the same times for each pull in a given fight, so you should learn what these timings are and what oGCDs you have available to use with them. You should often be able to use a Geirskogul during Trick Attack, but this is not worth doing if it means the loss of a use under Blood for Blood. You can usually get at least 2 Geirskoguls under Hypercharge also, and in some situations even 3. It’s important to look at your Geirskogul usage in and around these debuff windows to try and maximise your DPS gain from them. These 2 debuffs will often line up with your 60-second oGCDs, so you should try to get maximum overlap with these, aiming for your Power Surge Jump in particular to be within them whenever possible.

Knowing the timings for these is also crucial for knowing when to use Battle Litany. Having maximum overlap with these debuffs is very important for getting the best use of Litany for the party (you can also talk with your raid members about optimal timing for this). Identifying the burst windows for the group is important, and it can be worth holding buffs such as Blood for Blood and other oGCD skills for short durations in order to take full advantage of these.

Balance, however, is a bit different as it is an RNG-based skill, meaning it will never be up at consistent times. As such, it is impossible to plan your oGCD usage around its presence, but you can react to it. There are generally only very small optimizations you can do here, such as using Geirskogul earlier to be under the Balance buff, but it’s worth paying attention to whether or not Balance is up, to see if there is anything you can push out earlier than you might usually to take advantage of it.

There are two other buffs I haven’t talked about so far, which are Arrow and Fey Wind. Both of these buffs increase Attack Speed, which directly speeds up your GCD and auto-attacks. You can refer to the High Skill Speed section for optimization while these buffs are present.

 

Obligatory BiS Lists

http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/1057B

Non-relic BiS (you can swap the belts in this, depending on your preference of 2.40s with higher det or 2.38s GCD with slightly higher crit)

 

http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/ZCCT

Relic BiS

 

Special thanks to all of my FC Insomnia «IM» on Phoenix for constantly pestering me to finish this guide; in particular Decado Hyperion (former fat roe, now 2nd best Dragoon in IM), Pasuno Gremory and Jo Musse, and also my whole static for putting up with me while I wiped the raid testing my limits (C’minari Yfat, Meythia Yasuki, Sora Narukami, Yun Quinn, Kitano Gen, Tunnel Vision and Hope Adams).

Also thanks to Liz Lawine for being an inspiration to improve myself, and coming up with so many great ideas and rotation improvements that I would have never thought of myself.

About The Author

Raid Mom to the Warriors of Snarkness, Serena is also an Editor and the organizing genius of TMP. Rather than sleeping, she spends her time writing, teaching old bears new tricks, crafting for her raid group and searching for needles in haystacks.

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