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FFXIV Black Mage Guide Updated for 3.4

FFXIV Black Mage Guide Updated for 3.4

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  1. Introduction!

So you’re ready to join the Order of the Black? It’s a fine choice and with a little practice and some patience, you’ll be slinging fireballs soon enough. Black Mage has been my main job in Final Fantasy XIV since April of 2014, but I will in no way say I’m the best. I do however have 10+ years experience in MMOs, and I feel I have a good grasp of how the class works. This guide will work to answer any questions you might have about the class, give you a detailed look at each ability and how it translates to the battlefield, and give you tips and pointers to increase your skill level. But first let’s take a look at what it means to be a Black Mage and what you bring to your party.


Black Mage is a ranged, magic caster that has very high burst/spike damage while maintaining a safe distance from the enemy. It is the hardest hitting job in the game. That comes however at the cost of longer cast times and immobility. You are essentially a turret. When allowed to stand still, the Black Mage can devastate its target. Your role in a party is to deal high single target magic damage with very high burst damage, while also providing great utility. Black Mage is also one of the best multi-target damage dealers in the game. If you like seeing big damage numbers, then this is the class for you. The key to becoming efficient at the job, is learning how to effectively balance casting and movement in order to achieve as much uptime on your target as possible. But don’t worry, you’ll be given several tools along the way to help with this.

So before we get started let’s go over some terms and acronyms related to our job.


  1. Terminology

MP – Magic Points: Also frequently referred to as Mana. The resource that we pay to execute our abilities. One of the biggest advantages of Black Mage is that it has an unlimited supply of MP, and we’ll talk about that later.

GCD – Global Cooldown: The period of time after using a spell or ability in which it is not possible to use any other spell or ability. This prevents players from using several abilities at once. The global cooldown in FFXIV is 2.5 seconds. Most abilities cause and are affected by the global cooldown, but some are not, as seen below.

oGCD – Off the Global Cooldown: Meaning, abilities that do not trigger nor are affected by the Global Cooldown.

DoT – Damage over time: There are some abilities in the game that after your attack is executed, a status effect will be placed on the enemy which will continue to damage your target for an extended period of time. “Dotting” your target is the process of applying damage over time abilities.

AoE – Area of Effect: Dealing damage to multiple enemies simultaneously in a concentrated area. This is also the term frequently used to indicate telegraphs placed on the ground by the enemy.

Clipping – The act of refreshing a DoT while it is still active on the enemy. You want to try and avoid too much clipping by refreshing the DoT with as little time left as possible. This allows the DoT to reach its maximum potency. For example, an ability might be a total of 400 potency which is spread out over the duration of 30 seconds. Refreshing that DoT with 15 seconds left, now means your initial DoT only had a potency of 200.

CD – Cooldown: The time it takes before you can use a particular ability again. To use an ability “On Cooldown,” is saying to use it every time it’s available.

Rotation – Your rotation is simply a specific order of skills and abilities used to maximize your damage output. There are 3 different rotations you’ll have to learn in order to be the most efficient at your job; opener, single target (ST) rotation, and AoE rotation.

Astral Fire – A special status effect that increases the potency and MP cost of your Fire spells. At the same time, it lowers the potency and MP cost of Blizzard spells.

Umbral Ice – A special status effect that increases the speed at which MP is recovered. At the same time, it lowers the potency and MP cost of Fire spells.

Utility – An ability or spell that directly benefits any person(s) in your party.

Proc – A term used to indicate an ability or trait that is triggered under particular circumstances. For example, the Thaumaturge’s Fire spell has a 40% chance to “proc” a free, instant cast Fire III.

Hardcasting – Manually casting any spell or ability that you normally would want to cast instantly.

Stack – You and your party grouping together on a single location. The exact opposite of spreading out. There is also Effect Stacking, which refers to how an effect increments upon application. For example, Black Mage can have a total of 3 Astral Fire stacks, and Monk can have a total of 3 stacks of Greased Lightning.

Uptime – The measurement of time spent attacking your target. The opposite of downtime.

Tick – Refers to a standard period of time the server will use to time events or abilities in. In Final Fantasy XIV, a tick is 3 seconds. For example, a White Mage’s Regen will apply a 150 potency heal to its target every server tick, or every 3 seconds. DoTs also run off of the server’s tick. A DoT that lasts for 18 seconds will tick no more than 6 times.

  1. Attributes & Races

In FFXIV, there are several attributes that directly affect your character’s performance in battle. There are 6 primary attributes, and several more secondary stats. Your starting attributes will be determined solely by the race and subrace you select when creating a character. Throughout the game you’ll be able to increase your attributes by leveling, bonus attribute points, gear, weapons, food, materia, potions, and party bonuses.

  1. Primary Attributes

Intelligence is a Black Mage’s primary stat. This directly affects how much damage you do from each spell. All of your bonus points that you get through leveling should be put into Intelligence, and any gear you purchase should have Intelligence on it. Here is a list of the 6 Primary Attributes:

Strength (Str) – Affects physical melee damage.

Dexterity (Dex) – Affects physical ranged damage and melee damage dealt by rogues and ninjas.

Vitality (Vit) – Affects maximum HP, and damage dealt by tanks.

Intelligence (Int) – Affects attack magic potency.

Mind (Mnd) – Affects healing magic potency.

Piety (Pie) – Affects maximum MP.

  1. Which Race is best for Black Mage?

In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter which race you decide to go with. A few points here and there in certain attributes will not have a detrimental effect on your performance. You could potentially be spending hundreds of hours with this character, so you should go with the race you find most appealing. However, if you are into the min/maxing of an MMO, there are certain subraces that work well with Black Mage. Taking Intelligence and Piety into account, here is a table of Races and Subraces. Note: You can change your race at anytime by purchasing a Fantasia from the Final Fantasy XIV: Mog Station.


Table – II.C

Roegadyn Sea Wolves 22 18 23 17 21 19
Roegadyn *Hellsguard 20 17 21 20 22 20
Hyur Highlander 23 20 22 18 20 17
Hyur *Midlander 21 19 20 21 18 21
Elezen *Wildwood 19 23 18 22 17 21
Elezen Duskwight 20 20 19 23 20 18
Mi’Qote Seekers of the Sun 21 22 20 18 19 20
Mi’Qote *Keepers of the Moon 18 21 17 19 23 22
Lalafell Plainsfolk 18 22 18 21 20 21
Lalafell *Dunesfolk 17 20 17 21 22 23
Au Ra Xaela 23 20 21 20 17 19
Au Ra *Raen 17 21 18 20 22 22


The Elezen Duskwight has the highest Intelligence, but it’s low Piety is what leads me to not suggesting that race.

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  1. Secondary Stats

Secondary stats are stats that will boost your damage output, though a lot less so than primary attributes. All secondary stats are weighed directly against your primary stat, with the exception of accuracy, which has no stat weight. For Black Mage, our primary stat is Intelligence. Secondary stats will scale with Intelligence. The more Intelligence you have, the stronger your secondary stats become. One of the unique things about Black Mage is, all secondary stats are beneficial to us and are weighted fairly evenly. Here are the secondary stats used by BLM:

Accuracy (Acc) – Affects the accuracy of both physical and magic attacks. The higher the rating, the better chance your attack will have of landing.

This is the most important stat. After all, you do 0 damage if you miss. In dungeons and solo content, the accuracy requirements are either quite low or non-existent, and you should naturally have enough accuracy doing these, so you won’t have to worry about this too much while leveling. In high-end raiding and extreme primal battles however, this becomes a big factor.

Note: In instances that do require accuracy, there is a ceiling (accuracy cap), and that cap strictly depends on your job and the actual fight you are doing. You want to reach that cap with the gear you have, without going over too much. Once you’ve hit the cap on a particular fight, any excess accuracy you have just goes to waste. Those wasted stats could have been used on other, more beneficial secondary stats. You don’t need 600 accuracy on a fight that only requires 450. I am not going to list the accuracy cap for every fight in this guide, but a quick Google search will tell you what you need to know.

Spell Speed (SS) – Affects both the casting and recast timers for spells. The higher the value, the shorter the timers. Also affects a spell’s damage over time or healing over time potency.

Spell Speed shortens your global cooldown. This is the second most important secondary stat for Black Mage. We have such long cast times, and being able to shorten them with spell speed really allows a little more freedom with movement, and makes it easier to keep our timers active.

Every other class in the game is hindered by having too much attack speed. Because the faster they execute their abilities, the faster they run out of TP/MP. Since Black Mage has unlimited MP, you can never have too much Spell Speed. 

Critical Hit Rate (CHR) – Affects the rate at which your physical and magic attacks deal critical damage or restore critical HP, as well as the amount of critical damage dealt or critical HP restored. The higher the value, the higher the frequency with which your hits will be critical, and the higher the potency of critical hits.

Critical Hit Rate is an amazing stat for Black Mage. Our spells already hit for massive damage, so when our attacks crit, it’s a thing of beauty.

Determination (Det) – Affects the amount of damage dealt by both physical and magic attacks, as well as the amount of HP restored by healing spells.

Determination has the lowest stat weight for Black Mage. It is still quite good and does increase our damage, but it is slightly outshined by Spell Speed and Crit.

Weapon Damage (WD) – The last stat I want to talk about is weapon damage. This has the absolute biggest effect on your damage output. Weapon damage +1 is equivalent to around 10 points of Intelligence, so your weapon should always be up-to-date with your current level. When choosing where to your spend gil and tokens while leveling, your weapon should always be your first priority.

  1. Stat Weights

For those new to MMOs, you might be unfamiliar with the term “BiS.” This is an acronym for Best in Slot, which means the best possible gear set that you can wear in current content.

So how do you determine what piece of gear is best in slot? Well, you do that by knowing the stat weights for your class. Stat weights are calculated by algorithms, maths, and some other mumbo jumbo which figure out how much 1 point in a secondary stat is worth compared to your main stat. Stat weights are computed by others much smarter than myself. The Black Mage primary stat is Intelligence, which means it will always be a 1:1 ratio.

*The below diagram is for reference use only to demonstrate how to calculate and compare stat weights on gear*

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So taking a look at the above image, we can see that our main stat is worth 1, and a single Spell Speed is worth 0.324. So this means that 20 Spell Speed is equivalent to 6.48 Intelligence (20 * 0.324 = 6.48).

Let’s take a look at and compare two pieces of gear:

Valerian Wizard’s Robe: ilvl 160

Intelligence – 71

Accuracy – 57

Spell Speed – 40


Sharlayan Philosopher’s Coat: ilvl 148

Intelligence – 66

Critical Hit Rate – 36

Spell Speed – 51


Now using our stat weights, let’s figure out which chest piece is better:

Valerian Wizard’s Robe: 71 Int + (40 SS * 0.324) = 83.96 Intelligence

Sharlayan Philosopher’s Coat: 66 Int + (36 Crit * 0.202) + (51 SS * 0.324) = 89.796 Intelligence

So even though the Valerian Robe is a higher item level and has 5 more Intelligence, the Sharlayan Coat is actually more powerful damage wise; assuming you don’t need the accuracy.

Your first step in building your BiS will be to determine the accuracy requirement for the fight. Since the accuracy cap is different for every fight, your BiS could change from fight to fight. “Fight X” might have an accuracy cap of 400, while “Fight Y” might be 350. You could potentially swap some gear around to lose 50 accuracy and gain more Spell Speed, Crit, or Det. Also keep in mind that Vitality on gear can also play a factor in building a BiS. You need to make sure you’ll be able to survive certain enemy abilities.

Note: Stat weights can never be concrete. Your stat weights will change depending on your rotation, party composition, movement, what buffs you have active, party buffs, enemy buffs/debuffs, etc. Secondary stat weights will change whenever you gain a point of Intelligence. But stat weights are really meant to give you an average so you can at least get a clear enough picture to see a stat priority and build a BiS.


  1. Current Stat Weights as of Patch 3.4


  • Weapon Damage = 11.884
  • Intelligence = 1
  • Spell Speed = 0.283
  • Critical Hit Rate = 0.256
  • Determination = 0.206


Dervy is the brains behind the Stat Weights for the FFXIV community. Take a look at his guide and formulas and how he arrived at these numbers. It’s a good read. Dervy Does Theorycrafting.


  1. Best in Slot as of Patch 3.4


Here is my BiS gear set for Patch 3.4:


  1. Consumables

The effects on all food and potions are percentage based, having an (X points max) for each stat. For example, an X-Ether “Restores up to 20% of MP (630 points max).” Therefore, using food or potions that are level 60 while you are level 15 is a complete waste of stats and gil, and vice versa. Stick with food and potions that are around your level.


  1. Food – Food in FFXIV is a great way to get a little extra boost on Secondary Stats. There are dozens of choices and combinations. You can use food to meet an accuracy requirement for a certain fight, or boost up your crit, determination, or spell speed. Also, all battle food comes with a Vitality boost, so you’ll get a little extra HP. Food can get expensive though, so I recommend saving your best stuff for raiding and progression.


Food isn’t really needed doing your daily dungeons and other activities, but every piece of food, regardless of level or stats, comes with a 3% experience boost. So while you are leveling, I highly recommend having food active at all times. You can buy the cheapest food you can find from the Market Board or NPC Vendors, and every little bit of bonus experience helps while leveling.


  1. Potions – There are a wide variety of potions in FFXIV. There are potions for recovering HP and MP, antidotes for curing poison, blind, silence, paralysis, etc. There are also offensive potions that can apply those same effects to the enemy. Finally, there are potions which boost our Primary Attributes for a short length of time. Many of these potions will go unused during your playtime in FFXIV, but there are two potions utilized most by Black Mage, and they are: Ethers for MP recovery, and Potions of Intelligence to boost your damage. In each case, there are several tiers for those potions.


Table II.F.3

Levels: 1-14 Ether – Restores up to 35% of MP (120 points max)

Potion of Intelligence – Intelligence +20% (Max 15)

Levels: 15-29 Hi-Ether – Restores up to 35% of MP (240 points max)

Hi-Potion of Intelligence – Intelligence +20% (Max 34)

Levels: 30-44 Mega-Ether – Restores up to 30% of MP (510 points max)

Mega-Potion of Intelligence – Intelligence +20% (Max 61)

Levels: 45-59 X-Ether – Restores up to 25% of MP (790 points max)

X-Potion of Intelligence – Intelligence +20% (Max 84)

Level 60 Max-Ether – Restores up to 20% of MP (1700 points max)

Draconian Potion of Intelligence – Intelligence +20% (Max 105)

Max-Potion of Intelligence – Intelligence +20% (Max 127)

Supramax-Potion of Intelligence – Intelligence + 20% (Max 154)


Note: All potions are the High-Quality (HQ) version. Therefore, percentages will be reduced if the item is Normal Quality. The recast time for HQ is 4m30s, and 5m for Normal Quality (NQ).


Much like food, potions are mainly used to push harder, current content during raid progression. You’ll rarely use potions during dungeon runs and normal day-to-day activities, but they can give your party that little extra boost needed to beat a DPS check on a difficult fight. Of course if you have the Gil and/or ability to craft your own food and potions, feel free to use them as often as you’d like.


Note: In Section V: Rotations, all potions mentioned in rotations are referring to Potions of Intelligence. X-Potions for the level 50 rotation, and Draconian/Max/Supramax-Potions for the level 60 rotation.

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  • Abilities


  1. Becoming a Black Mage


The Black Mage “Job” is a specialization of the class Thaumaturge. You can unlock the Black Mage “Soul Crystal” by achieving level 30 Thaumaturge, level 15 Archer, and completing all of your class quests. The Thaumaturge guild is located in Ul’dah – Steps of Nald (7,12). You can begin by speaking with the Guild Receptionist, Yayake.


Anytime you are learning a new class in FFXIV, I highly recommend that you take the time to really study and learn what each ability does as you unlock them. More times than not, when a player is using an ability incorrectly, it’s because they don’t fully understand how it works. Read your tooltips, practice on a training dummy, and experiment in dungeons. So let’s go over all of our abilities and how they work.


  1. Class Actions


Blizzard – Lv1: Deals ice damage with potency of 180. Additional Effect: Heavy +40% for 20s. Additional Effect: Grants Umbral Ice for 12s or removes Astral Fire.


This is your first attack spell. You’ll use it as a filler spell later on, and the Heavy effect comes in handy. Heavy is a status effect that slows your target’s movement speed.


Fire – Lv2: Deals fire damage with potency of 180. Additional Effect: Grants Astral Fire for 12s or removes Umbral Ice. Additional Trait – Firestarter – Lv44: 40% chance next Fire III will cost no MP and have no cast time.


This will be your primary attack spell all the way to level 60.


Transpose – Lv4: Swaps all Astral Fire stacks with a single Umbral Ice, or all Umbral Ice stacks with a single Astral Fire. Cooldown: 12s.


Your primary use of this ability will be to recover mana by quickly switching from Astral Fire to Umbral Ice. There is another very specific use for this ability, but we’ll talk about that later.


Thunder – Lv6: Deals lightning damage with potency of 30. Additional Effect: Lightning damage over time with a potency of 40 for 18s. Additional Trait – Thundercloud – Lv28: 10% chance after each tick that the next Thunder, Thunder II, or Thunder III will add its full damage over time amount to its initial damage, have no cast time, and cost no MP.


Thunder is your only Damage Over Time spell. You want to try and keep this on your target(s) at all times.


Surecast – Lv8: Next spell is cast without interruption. Buff duration: 10s. Additional Trait – Enhanced Surecast – Lv16: 15% chance Surecast will have no recast time. Cooldown: 30s.

There are very few instances in which this buff can be beneficial. For the most part, this skill will go unused.

Sleep – Lv10: Puts target to sleep for 30s. Cancels auto-attack upon execution.

This is your first Utility. Putting all but one target to sleep can help your party by controlling the amount of incoming damage to your tank. This is referred to as Crowd Control (CC). This can be used in emergencies, but also can help your healer deal more damage since the healing requirement is reduced. Just remember that if you put a target to sleep, do not attack it or hit it with an AoE, because they will wake up.

Blizzard II – Lv12: Deals ice damage with a potency of 50 to all nearby enemies. Additional Effect: Bind for 8s. Additional Effect: Grants Umbral Ice for 12s or removes Astral Fire.

This is your first AoE spell. This spell does not target an enemy however, but rather originates from the caster. So you have to place yourself directly in the center of the action in order to get the full effect of this ability, which can sometimes prove troublesome. So be careful and watch your feet.

Scathe – Lv15: Deals elementally neutral damage with a potency of 100. Additional Trait – Enhanced Scathe – Lv24: 20% chance potency will double.

This ability is an instant cast as opposed to the 2.5s cast time of Fire; which allows you to cast this while moving. This is the first tool you are given which helps manage movement in a fight. It’s potency is quite low, so I recommend only using it as a last resort. A general rule of thumb is, if you have to move longer than a single GCD and have no other cooldowns available, go ahead and Scathe. If your movement only requires a quick sidestep, do not waste your GCD on Scathe.


Fire II – Lv18: Deals fire damage with a potency of 100 to target and enemies near it. Additional Effect: Grants Astral Fire for 12s or removes Umbral Ice.

Similar to Fire, this will be your primary AoE attack spell when 3 or more targets are grouped together.

Thunder II – Lv22: Deals lightning damage with potency of 50. Additional Effect: Lightning damage over time with a potency of 40 for 21s.

This lasts 3 seconds longer than Thunder and has a 20 potency increase on its initial hit, but also takes .5s longer to cast. My recommendation is to only use this ability for Thundercloud procs until you get Thunder III, and we’ll get to why later on.


Swiftcast – Lv26: Next spell is cast immediately. Buff duration: 10s. Cooldown: 60s.

This buff turns your next spell into an instant cast. This is the next tool your are given to help manage movement. It only has a 60s cooldown, so there is hardly ever a reason to hold onto it. If you have to move, use Swiftcast + the next ability in your rotation.


Manaward – Lv30: Creates a barrier that nullifies magic damage totalling up to 15% of maximum HP. Buff Duration: 20s. Additional Trait – Enhanced Manaward – Level 48: Increases this to 30%. Cooldown: 120s.


This is your first defensive buff. If you are low on health or have the weakness debuff, you can use this for incoming magic damage to help you survive. But it can also be used as an offensive buff. Black Mage already has a high magic defense, but using this buff when targeted by a magic AoE can allow you to stand still and continue casting.

Fire III – Lv34: Deals fire damage with a potency of 240. Additional effect: Grants full stack of Astral Fire for 12s and removes Umbral Ice.

One mistake I see quite often from aspiring Black Mages is the misunderstanding and misuse of this spell. This spell costs a lot of mana with a cast time one second longer than Fire. Its primary purpose is to give you all your Astral Fire stacks in one GCD. Do Not Spam This Ability!! Use Fire III once to get all of your Astral Fire stacks, then switch to Fire or Fire II to deal damage to your target(s).

Blizzard III – Lv38: Deals ice damage with a potency of 240. Additional effect:  Grants full stack of Umbral Ice for 12s and removes Astral Fire.

Has the same effect as Fire III, and this is where BLM will really start to feel intuitive. You can now rotate between Astral Fire and Umbral Ice in one Global Cooldown.

Lethargy – Lv42: Inflicts target with Slow and Heavy +20% for 12s. Cooldown: 30s.

Here is another utility that BLM brings to the party. Even though it doesn’t do any damage, it still comes in handy by slowing your target’s attack speed and movement speed. There are a great many instances where this ability comes in handy.

Thunder III – Lv46: Deals lightning damage with potency of 70. Additional Effect: Lightning damage over time with a potency of 40 for 24s.

This lasts 6 seconds longer than Thunder and has a 40 potency increase on its initial hit. However, it has a whopping 3.5 second cast time, so I do not recommend ever hardcasting this spell. This will be the spell you’ll use for all Thundercloud procs since you’ll be able to cast it instantly.


Aetherial Manipulation – Lv50: Rush to a target party member’s side. Unable to cast if bound. Cooldown: 30s.

Here is another movement tool. It will teleport you (sort of) to a party member of your choosing. You can use this to quickly dodge an attack, or stack with your party to soak damage, maximizing uptime on your target.


  1. Job Abilities


Convert – Lv30: Sacrifices 20% of maximum HP to restore 30% of your mana. Cannot be executed when current HP is lower than 20%. Cooldown: 180s.

This can be used as an emergency if you make a mistake and are left with no MP, but mostly you’ll want to use this as an offensive buff which will allow you to cast more Fires while your other damage buffs are up.

Freeze – Lv35: Covers a designated area in ice, dealing ice damage with a potency of 100. Additional Effect: Bind for 15s. Additional Effect: Grants Umbral Ice for 12s or removes Astral Fire.

This is better than Blizzard II for two reasons. First, it is more potent than Blizzard II. And second, you can cast this at range. Using Blizzard II or Freeze at level Cap though is very situational. The easiest way to explain it is, you’ll use it in AoE situations where you must keep Umbral Ice III active when transitioning into the next encounter. I will explain this in more detail in the final section of this guide.


Apocatastasis – Lv40: Reduces a party member’s magic vulnerability by 20%. Cannot be reused on an individual for 60s from the time the effect wears off. Cannot be cast on self. Buff Duration: 12s. Cooldown: 180s.


This is an amazing utility. It’s Manaward for a party member. Cast it on your tank if they are taking heavy magic damage, or if you notice a party member is low on health and AoE damage is incoming, you could throw it on them to help your healers. Also works great on party members who have the weakness debuff during an unavoidable magic attack.


Manawall – Lv45: Creates a barrier that nullifies physical damage up to 20% of maximum HP. Buff Duration: 20s. Cooldown: 120s.


This is the same thing as Manaward, only it works against physical damage.


Flare – Lv50: Deals fire damage to a target and enemies near it with a potency of 260 for the first enemy, 10% less for the second, 20% less for the third, 30% less for the fourth, 40% less for the fifth, and 50% less for all remaining enemies. Additional effect: Grants Astral Fire III for 12s and removes Umbral Ice.


This ability is your hardest hitting AoE but costs 100% of your remaining MP so you will want to use this when your MP is almost gone. After you cast Flare, you have to Transpose immediately after to start recovering MP. The time it takes for you to transpose and then get back into Astral Fire III is extensive, so this ability should not be used on a single target unless you have Convert or an Ether available. It also has a 4s cast time so it works well in conjunction with Swiftcast.


Ley Lines – Lv52: Connects naturally occurring ley lines to create a circle of power which, while standing within it, increases attack speed by 15%. Buff Duration: 30s. Cooldown: 90s.


This is just a standard offensive buff. Use it whenever it’s available.


Sharpcast – Lv54: Ensures the next Scathe, Fire, or Thunder spell cast will, for the first hit, trigger Enhanced Scathe, Firestarter, or Thundercloud respectively. Buff Duration: 10s. Cooldown: 60s.


This is another tool that can help you with movement. By casting Sharpcast before a Fire spell, it ensures that Firestarter will proc. Also can be used to quickly DoT multiple targets by triggering a Thundercloud proc. Please don’t ever use this with Scathe. The Twelve will frown upon you.


Enochian – Lv56: Increases magic damage dealt by 5%. Also allows the casting of Blizzard IV and Fire IV. Buff Duration: 30s. Cooldown: 60s.


When you first unlock Enochian, you won’t have access to Blizzard IV or Fire IV right away, so this is just a standard 5% damage buff. Use it whenever it’s available.


Blizzard IV – Lv58: Deals ice damage with a potency of 280. Can only be executed while under the effect of both Enochian and Umbral Ice. Additional Effect: Refreshes Enochian.


Each time Enochian is refreshed with Blizzard IV, the duration is reduced by 5 seconds, and it does not refresh Umbral Ice. It’s at this point you will want to start practicing to keep Enochian up at all times. This won’t always be possible, but it will be key for maximizing damage output.


Fire IV – Lv60: Deals fire damage with a potency of 280. Can only be executed while under the effect of both Enochian and Astral Fire.


So here you have it! The mother of all spells. This is one of the hardest hitting abilities in the entire game, and now becomes your primary attack spell. It has a 3s cast time but does not refresh Astral Fire, so you’ll need to throw in another Fire spell every 2-3 Fire IVs.


  1. Traits


Traits are passive abilities. Once you unlock them, they will add their effects automatically.


Enhanced Intelligence – Lv8: Increases intelligence by 2.


Enhanced Intelligence II – Lv14: Increases intelligence by 4.


Enhanced Surecast – Lv16: Grants a 15% chance that upon use, Surecast will have no recast time.


Magick and Mend – Lv20: Increases base action damage and HP restoration by 10% and allows for the stacking of a second Astral Fire or Umbral Ice.


Enhanced Scathe – Lv24: Grants a 20% chance that Scathe will deal double damage.


Thundercloud – Lv28: Grants a 10% chance that after each damage over time tick inflicted by any Thunder spell, the next Thunder, Thunder II, or Thunder III will add its full damage over time amount to its initial damage, have no cast time, and cost no MP. Proc Duration: 12s.


Enhanced Intelligence III – Lv32: Increase Intelligence by 6.


Deep Sleep – Lv36: Extends the area of effect for Sleep from a single target to a five-yalm radius.


Magick and Mend II – Lv40: Increases base action damage and HP restoration by 30% and allows for the stacking of a third Astral Fire or Umbral Ice.


Firestarter – Lv44: Grants a 40% chance that after casting Fire, your next Fire III will require no MP and have no casting time. Proc Duration: 12s.


Enhanced Manaward – Lv48: Increases damage nullified by Manaward to 30% of your maximum HP.


  1. Cross-Class Abilities


While leveling a class, you’ll have access to a few select skills from any other class you have leveled, assuming you have already unlocked them. But once you have equipped your job’s soul crystal, you will only have access to cross-class abilities from two other classes. In the case of Black Mage, those two classes are Archer and Arcanist. You’ll be able to select 3 cross-class skills at level 30, a fourth at level 40, and finally a fifth at level 50, for a total of five. You do not unlock a sixth slot at level 60. So let’s take a look at all the skills you can choose from.


  1. Archer


Raging Strikes – Lv4: Increases damage dealt by 20%. Buff Duration: 20s. Cooldown: 180s.


This is your standard damage buff. It has a 180s cooldown, which is the same as Convert, so using those two abilities together is optimal. This is your only “must have” cross-class skill, luckily you’ll have it anyways since you have Archer leveled to 15.


Hawk’s Eye – Lv26: Increases Dexterity and guarantees that all attacks land. Buff Duration: 20s. Cooldown: 90s.


Does absolutely nothing for Black Mage so go ahead and skip this one.


Quelling Strikes – Lv34: Reduces enmity generation. Buff Duration: 15s. Cooldown: 120s.


As stated before, Black Mage has incredibly high spike damage, especially during your opener. So using Quelling Strikes makes it a little easier for your tank to hold hate over you. This skill isn’t as necessary in low levels, but I would recommend getting it when you have some free time to level Archer. It’s pretty much mandatory for high-end raiding.


  1. Arcanist


Ruin – Lv1: Deals unaspected damage with a potency of 80.


It is on the Global Cooldown and is less potent than Scathe. Skip this one as well.


Physick – Lv4: Restores target’s HP with a potency of 400.


Having so few attributes in Mind, this cure won’t do much in a party, but at lower levels can really help make soloing easier. It has its uses in lower level dungeons as well. I’ve prevented a few wipes by spamming cure on the tank if the healer dies. It heals for such a small percentage, but with our unlimited supply of mana, you might just end up saving the day. Just don’t be backseat healing.


Virus – Lv12: Reduces target’s Strength and Dexterity by 15% for 10s. Grants target immunity to the same effect for 1 minute after the effect ends. Cooldown: 90s.


Even though we are unable to learn the Trait “Supervirus,” which adds 15% Intelligence and Mind to Virus, this utility can still be beneficial to your party. You can place it on an enemy right before it deals heavy physical damage to your tank.


Eye for an Eye – Lv34: Erects a magicked barrier around a single party member or pet for 30s. Barrier Effect: 20% chance that when barrier is struck, the striker will deal 10% less damage. Cooldown: 180s.


This is another great utility. You can cast this on your tank to reduce incoming damage. In raiding, chances are you’ll have 2-3 jobs with this ability, so it’s best to coordinate with them and cycle this to keep it up on your tank as often as possible.


Black Mage doesn’t really face a difficult decision when selecting cross-class abilities. You have 7 to choose from and 2 are worthless. Take Raging Strikes, Quelling Strikes, Virus, Eye for an Eye, and Physick.


  1. Battle


Now it’s time to take all we’ve learned about what we can do and apply it to the battlefield. On your way to level cap, your rotation will change quite a bit, but the way the class functions will not. The primary mechanic of the Black Mage is to rotate between Astral Fire to deal damage, and Umbral Ice to recover MP; while maintaining your Thunder DoT in between.


  1. Thaumaturge – Levels 1-29


During the first 30 levels of Thaumaturge, things will be pretty straightforward and shouldn’t be too difficult for you. Your primary attack spell is Fire so you’ll want to spend the majority of your time in Astral Fire. The #1 rule when playing Black Mage is, Always Be Casting!


  1. Astral Fire & Umbral Ice


When you are in a neutral stance, casting a single fire spell will give you one stack of Astral Fire (AF). Casting a single blizzard spell will give you a single stack of Umbral Ice (UI). Astral Fire has a multiplier and each AF stack increases the potency and MP cost of subsequent fire spells. The multiplier for Astral Fire I, II, and III is 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8 respectively. Fire has a base potency of 180, but under the effect of Astral Fire I, the potency becomes 252. After around 5 fire spells or so, you will be extremely low on MP and unable to cast another fire. So you’ll use Transpose which will immediately swap your one stack of Astral Fire for one stack of Umbral Ice. Once the Umbral Ice effect is applied, you’ll begin regenerating MP on the server’s tick. Umbral Ice also has a multiplier but it doesn’t affect the potency of Blizzard spells. The multiplier affects how much MP is regenerated each server tick. So the more stacks of Umbral Ice you have, the faster your MP will regen. It doesn’t matter how many stacks of Umbral Ice you have, the potency of each Blizzard spell will not change. For now, you’ll only be able to get 1 stack in each stance.


Note: While you are in either stance, the multiplier is .7 for any spells of the opposite element. So while in Umbral Ice for example, Fire would have a potency of 126 as opposed to its base of 180.


With one stack of Umbral Ice, it will take 3 ticks for your MP to fill completely, or about 9 seconds. While you are waiting for that, you have a few options; and that all depends on the situation. How many mobs are you fighting and what is the remaining health of each mob? Your Thunder spell has an initial hit potency of 30 plus an additional 40 potency every tick for 18s. As we talked about earlier, that is 6 ticks. So Thunder has a total potency of 270. Blizzard has a potency of 180. So Thunder is better right? Well yes, as long as that mob survives for at least 12s. (4 ticks x 40 potency + 30 potency = 190 potency) If the mob dies in less than 12 seconds, the cast would have been better spent on Blizzard. If there are multiple mobs, you can DoT a couple of them keeping that rule in mind. If there is only one, you can cast Thunder first followed by a Blizzard or two. Just keep in mind that as soon as your MP is full, it’s time to get back into Astral Fire.


  1. Transpose


Transpose has a 12s cooldown, and it will only take roughly 9 seconds for your MP to fill, so Transpose will not be available to switch back into Astral Fire. That is fine. You don’t have to wait for it. Casting one Fire will remove Umbral Ice, and casting another will apply your Astral Fire stack. Delaying until Transpose is off cooldown wastes around 3 seconds. If you prefer, you can continue casting blizzard until transpose is off cooldown. Just remember, Always Be Casting!


Just repeat this until all the mobs are dead. Once the battle is over, don’t forget to transpose into Umbral Ice so your MP will be full for the next pull.


At level 20, you will learn the trait Magick and Mend, which will give you a second stack of Astral Fire and Umbral Ice; increasing your fire potency to 288 under Astral Fire II. The same rotation and rules still apply here, only I would always follow up Transpose with a Blizzard or Blizzard II before your Thunder spell to give you two stacks of Umbral Ice, which will regenerate your MP slightly faster.


  1. Thunder II & Thundercloud Proc


At level 22, you’ll have access to Thunder II. This has an initial damage of 50 potency plus 7 ticks, so it’s a 60 potency increase over Thunder with a 3s cast time. I understand that sounds like a big difference, but in reality it’s not. Thunder has a total potency of 270. Divide that by its 2.5s cast time, and that gives you a total of 108 Potency Per Second (PPS). Thunder II has a total potency of 330. Divide that by its 3 second cast time and that’s 110 PPS. That’s only a difference of 2 PPS, which is trivial. So at this point it doesn’t really matter which Thunder spell you decide to go with, but I always opt for the faster cast.


Thundercloud is a trait that becomes available to you at level 28. When Thunder is applied to an enemy, there is a 10% chance that during a tick, it will proc Thundercloud. Thundercloud grants you a free, instant cast thunder spell of your choosing, and takes the entire potency of the DoT and adds that to the initial damage. Thunder II for example, which we just figured has a total potency of 330, would be our initial damage plus continue to tick for an additional 280 potency; totaling 610 potency. And since Thundercloud is an instant cast, it will only be a 2.5s GCD. Thunder on the other hand, would only be a total potency of 510 under Thundercloud, with the same cast time. So always use the highest thunder spell available for Thundercloud.


Now that you have Thundercloud, you really need to start thinking about clipping. So for example, you cast Thunder and it procs a TC on the first tick, it’s best not to use it right away. At that point your initial Thunder would have only done 70 potency out of its 270 total. Once Thundercloud triggers, you have 12 seconds to use it, so hold on to it as long as possible to make sure your first Thunder is doing maximum damage. The only exception to this is movement. If you have to move and have a TC available, use it.


At level 30, complete your final class quest and unlock Black Mage.


  1. Black Mage – Levels 30-55


Once you have obtained and equipped the Black Mage soul crystal, you’ll be given a bonus in attributes and have access to job specific skills that will only be available while your soul crystal is equipped. These job skills will be learned after completing job quests. Starting at Level 30, you’ll have a job quest available every 5 levels until you hit level 50. After that, you’ll have job quests every 2 levels, with your final job quest being at level 60. Also, once your soul crystal is equipped, you’ll lose access to any cross-class skills that are not from Archer or Arcanist.


  1. Fire III & Blizzard III


At level 34, you will unlock Fire III. Now just because this is a bigger fire spell, doesn’t mean it replaces Fire. It’s function is to apply all of your Astral Fire stacks with one spell, regardless if you are in Umbral Ice or not. It has a 3.5s cast time, but the MP cost of Fire III is greatly reduced while in Umbral Ice, and the same goes for the inverse. It does however cost a ton of MP while in Astral Fire, so this is NOT your primary attack spell. You will cast it once to get all of your stacks, then continue using Fire, only using Fire III again for Firestarter procs, which you’ll learn at level 44.


Blizzard III is unlocked at level 38 and serves the same function as Fire III. At this point, Transpose is no longer needed during your rotation. So at level 38, your rotation will look like this:


Cast Fire III to give you two stacks of Astral Fire > cast Fire/Fire II until low on MP > Cast Blizzard III to put you right into Umbral Ice II > Use Thunder and Blizzard spells as fillers while waiting for MP to regenerate > Rinse and repeat until everything is dead.


Even though Transpose isn’t needed to switch between stances anymore, it still has a great use, which we’ll get to shortly.


  1. Astral Fire III & Umbral Ice III


At level 40, you will learn the trait Magick and Mend II, which will allow you to stack a third Astral Fire and Umbral Ice; increasing your fire potency to 324 while in Astral Fire III.


Something very important to understand about Astral Fire and Umbral Ice III is, while you are in Umbral Ice III, the 3.5s cast time of Fire III is halved to 1.75, and Blizzard III’s cast time is halved when you are in Astral Fire III. This makes switching between your two stances much faster. This is why you don’t want to transpose to switch stances. In addition, with 3 stacks of Umbral Ice, it will only take 2 ticks to fill your MP completely. That can take anywhere from 3 to 6 seconds, depending on where you are in relation to the server tick when you cast Blizzard III. Meaning, sometimes you will get a server tick immediately after Blizzard III lands. When this happens, you’ll get your second tick 3 seconds later. Other times, Blizzard III will land right after a server tick, which means it will take around 6 seconds to get two ticks.


  1. Firestarter


The Firestarter trait is learned at level 44. Firestarter grants you a 40% chance that when your Fire spell lands, it will proc a free, instant cast Fire III. Fire III has a potency of 240, which is 432 under Astral Fire III. Note: Firestarter will proc when the ability actually hits the target, not when the cast bar is full. This means that you should have already started your next cast when you get the proc. Once you get the proc, you have 12 seconds to use it, and you won’t lose it by casting other spells.


A common mistake I see with Black Mages is to cast fire and then delay their next cast to see if they get a Firestarter proc. This is wrong. Remember your ABCs, Always Be Casting. Their argument is that if you delay your next cast and get a proc, you have the potential to get another proc on the next fire, but the odds of getting 2 firestarters in a row are low and it’s an overall dps decrease to delay any ability. This also goes for interrupting your current cast to use a proc, don’t do it! Finish casting your ability and then use the proc afterwards. The only exception to this rule is, if you get targeted by an AoE while you’re in the middle of a cast, you can interrupt your spell to move, and cast your Firestarter so you aren’t losing any uptime on your target.


*Sometimes you will proc a Firestarter on the last Fire in your rotation. So you will actually get the proc after you’ve started your Blizzard III cast. Again, don’t cancel your cast to use it. Finish your cast, reapply your Thunder DoT, let your MP fill, and use the Firestarter proc to get back into Astral Fire III. And here is where Transpose comes into great use. By transposing before your Firestarter, you turn a 168 potent Fire III into a potency of 336. And since it’s a free instant cast, you avoid the 3.5s cast time.*


  1. Thunder III & Flare


Thunder III is learned at level 46 and replaces Thunder II for Thundercloud procs. Under Thundercloud, Thunder III has a massive potency of 710. This makes Thundercloud your most potent ability and highest priority as long as it’s allowed to tick at least twice. Never hardcast Thunder III.


After you complete your level 50 Job quest, you’ll have access to Flare. This is your big AoE ability and will spend all of your remaining MP. This is not to be used on a single target unless you have Convert + Swiftcast available. Flare has a potency of 468 under AFIII, but after a transpose and waiting for a server tick, you’ll lose some time getting back into AFIII. So don’t do that unless you have at least two targets. We’ll talk about Flare and rotations more in depth in Section V: Rotations.


  1. Ley Lines & Sharpcast


At level 52 you’ll learn Ley Lines. This will create a floating circle on your position, and as long as you’re standing in it, it increases your attack speed by 15%. The buff is stationary, but you can move in and out of it and it will stay there for the duration of the buff. You want to try and use this as soon as it’s available because it has a 90s cooldown. This way, every other Ley Lines will sync up with Raging Strikes and Convert. You also want to try and use it when you know you’ll be able to stand still for awhile.


Sharpcast will be the next ability you learn at level 54. It has a 60s cooldown and allows you to manually trigger a proc of your choosing. It lasts for 10s once activated, and will automatically proc your next Thunder, Fire or Scathe. I will go into more detail about Sharpcast in Section VI: Managing Cooldowns.


  1. Black Mage – Levels 56-60


The last three abilities that you will learn on your way to 60 will change the way the class plays and feels. These abilities will be incredibly important for maintaining high damage, and you will have to learn to master them. It won’t come easy right away, but just have a little patience and keep practicing.


  1. Enochian, Blizzard IV & Fire IV


Enochian is learned at level 56, but until you get Blizzard IV and Fire IV, Enochian isn’t much of a change. It gives you a 5% damage increase and lasts for 30 seconds. So you can just use it on cooldown until you get your next ability, Blizzard IV.


At level 58, Blizzard IV will allow you to refresh Enochian, with the duration being reduced 5 seconds each refresh. It has a potency of 294, a 3 second cast time and does not refresh Umbral Ice. (The tooltip will read its potency is 280, but since you must be under the effect of Enochian, there is a 5% damage increase) The cooldown on Enochian is 60 seconds, so after two refreshes, you’ll be able to recast Enochian to reset the timer.


The final spell you’ll learn is Fire IV at level 60. This will replace Fire as your main attack spell. It also has a potency of 280, but under Astral Fire III and Enochian, that potency becomes 529.2. You must be in Astral Fire to use this ability and it does not refresh Astral Fire. So you’ll still need to use your other fire spells to refresh Astral Fire.


  1. Maintaining Enochian


Enochian is now your top priority. Everything you do throughout the course of a fight should be dictated by keeping the Enochian buff active. Enochian can be broken down into 3 mini-rotations. The first time you activate Enochian, the buff duration is 30 seconds. The first time Enochian is refreshed with Blizzard IV, the buff duration becomes 25 seconds, and finally the duration is reduced to 20 seconds after the second Blizzard IV refresh. At the end of the 20s, Enochian is back off cooldown and you can reset the timer to 30 seconds by recasting Enochian.


  1. Spell Priorities


Now that we have all of our abilities, let’s talk about exactly how you should prioritize them. Potency Per Second, or PPS, is how I’ll measure each ability. This is the total potency of the ability, divided by the time it takes to execute. Note: The potencies of all Fire spells are under the effect of Astral Fire III, and Blizzard spells under the effect of Umbral Ice. This is also using base Spell Speed with the normal 2.5 GCD. The PPS will increase as your Spell Speed increases, reducing the cast time.


Spell Potency Per Second

Without Enochian

Potency Per Second

With Enochian

Thundercloud Full Duration = 284 PPS

One Tick = 172 PPS

Full Duration = 298.2 PPS

One Tick = 180.6 PPS

Firestarter 172.8 PPS 181.44 PPS
Fire IV N/A 176.4 PPS
Fire 129.6 PPS 136.08 PPS
Thunder Full Duration = 108 PPS Full Duration = 113.4 PPS
Blizzard IV N/A 98 PPS
Blizzard 72 PPS 75.6 PPS
Fire II 60 PPS per target 63 PPS per target
Freeze 33.33 PPS per target 35 PPS per target
Blizzard II 20 PPS per target 21 PPS per target
Scathe 40 PPS / 20% chance to double 42 PPS / 20% chance to double


  1. Weaving and oGCDs


As we talked about in Section I: Terminology, off the global cooldown abilities do not trigger nor are affected by the Global Cooldown. Weaving is the process of executing abilities in between Global Cooldowns. This allows you to perform two or even 3 abilities in a single GCD, which will increase your uptime and damage per second.


Black Mage is sort of unique when it comes to oGCDs though. Tanks and melee classes use weaponskills instead of spells. Weaponskills are instant, so the action is executed at the beginning of the GCD, whereas spells are executed at the end of the GCD; locking us in that GCD for its entirety. This is referred to as “Animation Lock.” This prevents us from using any other ability during our global cooldown, unless we cast a spell instantly.


Black Mages have a ton of abilities off the global cooldown, but we only have 4 spells that are instant cast: Scathe, Thundercloud procs, Firestarter procs, and any spell used under Swiftcast. You shouldn’t be using Scathe very often, and we can’t really plan for procs, so true weaving isn’t really a thing with Black Mage. However, if you do get a proc, you can weave other abilities during that GCD and have no delay, allowing you more uptime on your target. Otherwise, if you were to cast Fire for example, once the cast bar completes and your spell goes off, you can then activate an oGCD, but there will be roughly a half second delay until you can start your next cast. Here is a table of all the GCDs and oGCDs for Black Mage:


Table – IV.C.5

On the Global Cooldown


Off the Global Cooldown


Blizzard Transpose
Fire Surecast
Thunder Swiftcast
Sleep Manaward
Blizzard II Convert
Scathe Apocatastasis
Fire II Lethargy
Thunder II Manawall
Fire III Aetherial Manipulation
Freeze Ley Lines
Blizzard III Sharpcast
Thunder III Enochian
Flare Raging Strikes
Blizzard IV Quelling Strikes
Fire IV Virus
Physick Eye for an Eye


So keeping all of this in mind, let’s move on to the the next section.

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  1. Rotations


The difficulty in playing Black Mage does not come from a long, complex rotation. In fact, it’s probably the easiest rotation in the game. The difficulty will lie in your ability to effectively use your skillset to minimize movement and maximize uptime.


Rotations aren’t always concrete. Every encounter in the game is different, so there can never be a “Master Rotation” that applies no matter the situation. You must be able to adapt. For that, the most important skill you should learn while playing FFXIV is awareness. Knowing exactly what the enemy is doing, knowing each of your party member’s location, keeping an eye on all your cooldowns and effect timers, and knowing what is going on in the environment around you. But there is a blueprint you can follow, and we’ll start with the level 50 Rotation.


  1. Level 50 Rotation


There are two openers for the level 50 Rotation, and the one you should use will depend on how much Piety you have. Most subraces cannot achieve 251 Piety without either putting bonus points into Piety or eating food with Piety on it. Even with the Piety party buff. If you do not have 251 Piety, this is the opener you will use:


Opener 1: Fire III > Raging Strikes > Fire > Potion > Fire x 3 > Swiftcast > Flare > Convert > Fire > Blizzard III > Thunder > *Blizzard.


However, if you can reach the 251 Piety requirement, you can do a more potent opener. By starting with Blizzard III, you will actually then have enough mana to do 5 Fires under Raging Strikes instead of 4.


Opener 2: Blizzard III > Thunder > Fire III > Raging Strikes > Fire > Potion > Fire x 4 > Swiftcast > Flare > Convert > Fire > Blizzard III > Thunder > *Blizzard.


Thunder and Blizzard are fillers while waiting for your MP to refill. At the end of your rotation, after you cast Blizzard III, pay close attention to the server tick and your MP during your Thunder cast. If you are over halfway through your Thunder cast when you get your first server tick, that means you are looking at another 3 seconds to get the second tick. Fire III has a 1.75s cast time, which means you have to use that last Blizzard at the end (As seen with the asterisk) or else you won’t have full mana. However, if you get the first server tick pretty early during your Thunder cast, you can omit the Blizzard and go immediately into your single target rotation.


Single Target Rotation: Fire III > Fire x 5 > Blizzard III > Thunder > *Blizzard > Repeat


Use all of your Thundercloud and Firestarter procs as you get them. If you are fighting multiple enemies, you can alternate Thundercloud procs between them to have Thunder ticking on multiple enemies, which increases proc percentage. If you are not fighting multiple mobs, but you are getting a lot of Thunderclouds, try to hold on to them as long as possible to avoid too much clipping. Use any proc you have during movement though.


Note: Remember, if you get a Firestarter proc on your last fire, your rotation changes slightly. It will look like this:


Fire III > Fire x 5 (last Fire procs) > Blizzard III > Thunder > Blizzard > Transpose > Firestarter.


In this scenario, you must use Blizzard or a second Thunder on another target as a second filler since Firestarter is an instant cast. If you don’t, you won’t have full MP when casting your proc.


Note: If you use a Thundercloud proc toward the end of your Astral Fire stance, there is no need to use Thunder as a filler after Blizzard III. You are just wasting potency at that point. Substitute Thunder for another Blizzard. If there are a few seconds left on Thunder when you cast Blizzard III, you can swap Thunder and Blizzard and cast Blizzard first.


After 3 minutes, Raging Strikes and Convert are both off cooldown. You can now do your opener again. This is your burst/spike damage. Your potion won’t be available during this since it has a longer cooldown, and we’ll talk more about that later.


AoE Rotation: Fire III > Fire II x 2 > Flare > Transpose > repeat.


Note: The first time you execute your AoE rotation, you will be at full mp so you will actually be able to cast 3 Fire IIs before Flare.


Note: If Swiftcast is off cooldown, you can use that before Flare. Otherwise, just hardcast it.


After you cast Flare, you need to Transpose. Remember though that Transpose only grants you a single stack of Umbral Ice, so that means it will take three server ticks to fill your MP instead of two. We do not wait until our MP is completely full during our AoE rotation because it is roughly 9 seconds of standing there doing nothing, and that goes against everything we’ve learned so far. Flare is your nuke, so you want to land this spell as quickly and often as possible. So as soon as you get the first mana tick, immediately start casting Fire III. During your Fire III cast, there are two possible scenarios, and it all strictly depends on your current Spell Speed when you transpose:


  1. You get a second mana tick during Fire III. If this happens, Fire II x 2 > Flare > Transpose > repeat.


  1. You do not get a second mana tick during Fire III. If this happens, Flare > Transpose > repeat. The reason for this is you will only have enough mana to cast one spell. Flare is better than Fire II.


Note: If you encounter scenario two, you will have to wait 2 seconds for Transpose to be off cooldown after Flare. You could always choose to wait a half second or so after the mana tick before you start casting Fire III to ensure you’ll get a second tick.


  1. Fire II & Flare


As we discussed earlier, Fire 1 is 129.6 PPS under Astral Fire III, and Fire II is 60 PPS per target under Astral Fire III. This means that you need to hit at least 3 targets with Fire II for it to be a DPS increase over Fire. So if you are in a situation where you are only fighting two mobs, it is better to replace your Fire IIs with Fire while still continuing to end with Flare.


Flare has a diminishing return, with each additional mob receiving less potent damage than the one before. Let’s see exactly what that looks like. Note: This is all under Astral Fire III and Flare’s 4 second cast time.


Table – V.C

# of Targets Potency % Potency Total Potency Total PPS
1 100% 468 468 117
2 90% 421.2 889.2 222.3
3 80% 374.4 1263.6 315.9
4 70% 327.6 1591.2 397.8
5 60% 280.8 1872 468
6 50% 234 2106 526.5


As you can see, this is why Black Mage is so strong at AoE. Pumping out 2106 potency on a single spell is Godly.


Triple Flare: Fire III > Raging Strikes > Fire II x 3 > Flare > Convert > Swiftcast > Flare > X-Ether > Flare > Transpose.


This is the Triple Flare. This only works if X-Ether and Convert are both off cooldown. If you don’t have an X-Ether, you can do two Flares. I find it best to use this rotation on the first pull in a dungeon or shortly after a boss encounter. This way I’ll have Raging Strikes and Convert ready for the next boss fight.


Note: Ethers and Potions of Intelligence share a cooldown. So you can’t use an Intelligence potion during a Triple Flare.

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  1. Level 60 Rotation Part I (Openers)


The level 60 Black Mage rotation is quite different from the level 50 one, and it requires you to pay a lot more attention to your buff timers. The skill ceiling is raised quite a bit here, but with some patience and practice, you’ll be able to play at a high level.


Your opener is the most important part of the fight as far as your DPS is concerned. All of your party should be using all of their buffs simultaneously, so it is where you will get your highest burst of the fight. It’s much easier to maintain a high damage output, as opposed to trying to catch up. In addition, in most fights you’ll be able to skip certain mechanics if your party DPS can push the boss below certain HP thresholds.


Now there are many variations for the level 60 Opener and each have their advantages and disadvantages. Your opener really should be built specifically around each fight. No two fights are the same, and your job will be to use your abilities in the order that will provide you the most uptime on your target. For example, “Fight X” might require movement during your 8th GCD, and “Fight Y” might require movement at your 6th GCD. In some fights you can be pre-positioned during the pull, while others you’ll have to move into position after the pull. This all plays a big factor, and you should design your openers based on those movement windows. Also, do not be afraid to experiment and take risks. You’ll never know what you can actually do until you try.


At the time of these calculations, they were done with 1103 Spell Speed. The casting time of the potion is considered into the time. However, it increases Intelligence, and because the potion’s potency will be dependent on your attack power and the variations depending on which potion you use, the potion’s potency will be omitted on all rotations. I have added 0.5 seconds to each oGCD with the exception of any oGCD used under Firestarter or Swiftcast. Raging Strikes is a 1.2 multiplier, and Enochian is a 1.05 multiplier.


To see a complete breakdown of all of these rotations, potencies, and variations, check my Black Mage Openers Spreadsheet.


  1. Sharpcast Opener (No Proc): Precast Sharpcast > Precast Quelling Strikes > Ley Lines + Fire 1 (lands as boss is pulled) > Enochian + Raging Strikes > Firestarter > Potion > Fire IV x 3 > Fire (No Proc) > Swiftcast > Fire IV > Convert > Fire IV x 2 > Blizzard III > Thunder > Blizzard IV.


As of Patch 3.2, this is the most potent of the Level 60 Openers, even without the proc. The use of oGCDs and precasting Ley Lines allows you to weave your potion under Firestarter, which is by far the longest animation lock. Another benefit of the Sharpcast Opener is MP cost. By sharpcasting Fire 1, you get into Astral Fire 3 at only 1060 MP instead of 1768. As long as you have 264 Piety, you can complete the entire rotation without waiting for a server tick. 264 Piety can be achieved by having the Piety party bonus by being in a party with an Astrologian or Scholar. Dunesfolk Lalafells can achieve 264 Piety naturally. You could also spec a few points into Piety, meld piety materia, or eat food with Piety on it.


Note: This exact rotation will need to be adjusted slightly if you can’t be prepositioned during the pull, but as your Spell Speed increases, you can swap Ley Lines with Enochian and still be able to complete the rotation. If your Spell Speed is lower than 800, I would use the 3.0 Sharpcast Opener which can be found in the Black Mage Openers Spreadsheet.


  1. Sharpcast Opener (With Proc): Precast Sharpcast > Precast Quelling Strikes > Ley Lines + Fire 1 (lands as boss is pulled) > Enochian + Raging Strikes > Firestarter > Potion > Fire IV x 3 > Fire (Procs) > Swiftcast > Fire IV > Convert > Fire IV x 2 > Firestarter > Blizzard III > Thunder > Blizzard IV.


Sharpcast Opener (With Proc) Video


This is the alternate version of the Sharpcast opener. It is the exact same, only you get a Firestarter proc on your second Fire, making it even more potent than before. With enough Spell Speed (around 815) you can land all 6 Fire IVs + the Firestarter under Raging Strikes, as long as you use the Firestarter last.


Note: In the spreadsheet, I’ve added a new section called “Modified 3.2 Sharpcast Openers.” These are more powerful but also a tad bit riskier. You can move Enochian right before Fire 1 to gain an extra 0.5s which will up your PPS, only this requires higher spell speed. If movement is a factor in your opener, I would advise against the Modified sharpcast openers. But if you know you can stand still, it is highly potent.


  1. Fire III Opener: Precast Quelling Strikes > Precast Sharpcast > Fire III (lands as boss is pulled) > Ley Lines + Enochian + Raging Strikes > Fire (Procs) > Potion > Fire IV x 3 > Firestarter + Convert > Fire IV x 3 > Blizzard III > Thunder > Blizzard IV.


The other popular opener is the Fire III Opener. This one also requires 264 Piety, but that only allows you to cast Blizzard III at the end of your rotation. You will still have to wait for a server tick after your Blizzard III to use either Thunder or Blizzard IV.


With the changes to BLM in Patch 3.2, this opener is less potent than the Sharpcast Opener. Although, if you do not have enough Spell Speed for the Sharpcast Opener, the Fire III Opener is slightly more potent than the older version of the Sharpcast Opener because you are guaranteed 6 IVs. However, there are also a few issues with this opener.


For starters, it costs around 700 more MP than the Sharpcast Opener. So after you cast Blizzard III, you will not have enough mana to cast Thunder or Blizzard IV. Which means you have to wait for a server tick. That could be immediately, or it could potentially add another 3 seconds to your time, which could drop your PPS way down. That would force you to swap your Thunder and Blizzard IV which would then cut into your 25s Enochian rotation, unless you decide to omit the Thunder altogether.


One other benefit of the Fire III Opener is that you can choose not to use Swiftcast. This allows you to hold onto it in case you run into an issue with refreshing Enochian. Keep in mind, it is possible to double weave two oGCDs under Firestarter. However, with Ley Lines and a Scholar’s “Fey Wind,” it pretty much makes this impossible without having some slight delay, unless your Spell Speed is under 550.


  1. Blizzard III Opener: Precast Quelling Strikes > Precast Ley Lines > Blizzard III (lands as boss is pulled) > Swiftcast > Thunder III > Sharpcast + Enochian > Fire III > Raging Strikes > Potion > Fire > Fire IV x 3 > Firestarter > Convert > Fire IV x 3 > Blizzard III > Thunder > Blizzard IV.


The Blizzard III opener has more potency, but the PPS is much lower, and you shouldn’t use it in most cases. However, the reason this opener can be useful is because of its length. So this becomes a useful opener in certain fights where movement might be needed at a specific point during your opening rotation.


My recommendation would be to use the Sharpcast Opener for most situations. You have a little more freedom with movement and you get a 40% chance to proc a Firestarter, which makes this opener extremely potent.


Click here to see a complete potency breakdown of all of the openers and their variations.


Note: I also precast Sprint on my opener. Since Black Mages don’t use TP, we can Sprint as much as we want. Having Sprint active during your opener makes any potential movement a little quicker, and Sprint also fills the Party’s Limit Break Gauge.


  1. Level 60 Rotation Part II (Single Target & AoE)


  1. Single Target


The single target rotation is with 600+ Spell Speed, so if you are just starting off at level 60, you may have to adjust these rotations slightly as you will not be able to use procs in most cases. Just test your rotation on a dummy to see exactly what you can fit into this rotation with your current Spell Speed.


As we talked about earlier, there are 3 rotations inside of Enochian. Keep in mind, these are only guidelines to follow and the fight itself will really dictate what you do. But the basic premise of the the single target rotation is as follows:


  1. Enochian – 30 Seconds: Fire III > Fire IV x 2 > Fire > Fire IV x 2 > Blizzard III > Thunder > Blizzard IV. Depending on your current spell speed, you’ll have approximately 8 seconds of free time here. That means you’ll have two free GCDs to use on either movement or procs.


  1. Enochian – 25 Seconds: Fire III > Fire IV x 2 > Fire > Fire IV x 2 > Blizzard III > Blizzard IV > Thunder. During the 25s Enochian, you’ll have roughly 3 seconds to spare. That will give you one free GCD. If you get both a Firestarter and a Thundercloud, choose Thundercloud. If you use them both, there is a good chance you’ll lose Enochian. If you don’t get a proc at all, you should be able to squeeze in Thunder before Blizzard IV depending on your spell speed.


  1. Enochian – 20 Seconds: Fire III > Fire IV x 2 > Fire > Fire IV x 2 > Blizzard III > Thunder > Recast Enochian. You can really use as many procs as you get during the 20 second Enochian rotation, because you can recast Enochian at anytime to reset the timer to 30 seconds.


Note: None of this is exact. As you upgrade gear and stack more spell speed, these rotations become faster, and therefore allow more freedom with movement or the ability to use more procs under Enochian.


It doesn’t look very complicated, and it’s not. Being able to execute this while dealing with mechanics and movement is what makes playing BLM a little more complex. The timers on Enochian, Astral Fire and Umbral Ice are so tight, that any movement usually results in the entire rotation needing to be slightly adjusted. Anytime you have to move, it usually removes one of your Fire IVs. If it’s just a quick sidestep, you should be fine.


Remember though, keeping Enochian active is your #1 priority, and you must be in Umbral Ice in order to cast Blizzard IV. Blizzard III has a 1.75s cast time (as long as you’re in Astral Fire III) and Blizzard IV has a 3s cast time. So if there is 6 seconds remaining on Enochian, regardless of where you are in your rotation, your next cast should be Blizzard III, followed by Blizzard IV. Also keep in mind that you might get stunned or targeted by an AoE which forces you to move while trying to refresh Enochian. So giving yourself a buffer of a couple extra seconds might not be a bad idea. If Swiftcast is available, you can use it to instantly cast Blizzard IV if you cut it too close or to refresh on the move.


If you cast a Fire IV and then have to move, cast Fire next to refresh Astral Fire and then end with 3 Fire IVs.


Here is a video of a 3 minute Rotation done on the Alexander 8 Savage dummy.


A8S Dummy – BM


  1. AoE Rotation


The AoE rotation for level 60 is not much different than the level 50 rotation. Enochian doesn’t really benefit us during an AoE rotation because keeping it up is more of a hassle than it’s worth. Flare is still your big hitter, so you still want to land this spell as often as possible.


3 or more targets: Your rotation is the exact same as level 50. Fire II x 2 > Flare > Transpose > Repeat. Remember, you’ll be able to cast 3 Fire IIs the first time since your MP is full.


If you have a group of enemies stacked together, but need to burst down a specific one for mechanic purposes, you can use Enochian and do Fire III > Fire IV x 2 > Fire > Flare > Transpose > Blizzard IV > Repeat.


                2 targets: As we talked about earlier, Fire II is only a DPS increase on 3 or more targets. So if you are in a situation with only two targets, you should use a single target rotation ending with Flare.


Triple Flare: Once you hit level 60, the cost of your spells scale with your mana. Therefore, X-Ethers will no longer give back enough mana to cast Flare. You will now have to use Max-Ethers in order to pull this off.


  1. Losing Enochian


Sometimes no matter what we do, it’s just gonna happen and we have to learn to deal with that. The most important piece of advice I can give to you when that happens is, don’t get frustrated and don’t panic. You just have to switch back to the level 50 rotation. At worst, you’ll have to wait 30 seconds for Enochian to be off cooldown. You’ll lose roughly 1000 potency during that time, depending on procs, but it’ll be a lot more if you panic and can’t adjust. So just keep on casting and recast Enochian when it’s ready.


  1. Piety Melds


Before Patch 3.2, your max Piety was determined strictly by what race/subrace you decided to go with. BLMs do not have Piety on our gear, so adding bonus points into Piety or eating food with Piety on it was the only way to alter that. At level 60, your max Piety will be between 258 and 264, depending on race. This can then be boosted +7 if you have a Scholar or Astrologian in your party. 264 Piety is the recommended minimum to do the most optimal opening rotation. So as long as you have the Piety party buff, any race can reach that number. If you are raiding or doing Extreme Primal battles, the odds of not having the Piety party buff are slim to none, because it is extremely rare to bring 2 White Mages in 8 man content.


However, our piety can actually have a huge effect during our normal rotation. As a Black Mage with regenerating MP, we are quite often at the mercy of the server tick, and this can sometimes really screw us over. I will give a complete rundown of how this can happen. So let’s take a look at a standard mid-fight rotation and the consumption of MP.


At 264 Piety, your max MP is 11359. During Umbral Ice III, you regenerate 7052 MP on each server tick.


Spells MP Cost Current MP
Starting with 11359 MP in Umbral Ice III
Fire III -442 10917
Fire IV x 2 -3536 7381
Fire -2120 5261
Fire IV x 2 -3536 1725
Blizzard III -265 1460
*Server Tick +7052 8512
Thunder -707 7805
Blizzard IV -884 6921
*Server Tick +7052 11359


You’re now back at square one and everything is flowers and rainbows, but herein lies the problem. Sometimes the server tick doesn’t cooperate so easily, and you’ll get your second server tick right before Blizzard IV, and the result looks like this:


Spells MP Cost Current MP
Starting with 11359 MP in Umbral Ice III
Fire III -442 10917
Fire IV x 2 -3536 7381
Fire -2120 5261
Fire IV x 2 -3536 1725
Blizzard III -265 1460
*Server Tick +7052 8512
Thunder -707 7805
*Server Tick +7052 11359
Blizzard IV -884 10475


Now if you cast Fire III before you get another server tick, you are starting your next rotation 884 MP short. This results in you being left with only 576 MP at the end of your next rotation after you cast Blizzard III; instead of 1460. 576 is not enough to cast either Blizzard IV or Thunder, so you are left standing there waiting for a server tick until you can cast again. The alternative is to wait to cast Fire III after Blizzard IV or use Blizzard as a filler. But either way, it’s less potent and could even cause you to lose Enochian. You could potentially lose a lot of DPS through the course of a fight when this happens.


This problem can now be solved with the addition of materia slots to our raid gear in Patch 3.2. By reaching 284 Piety, you will never have to worry about that problem happening. It will take at least two piety melds to be able to reach 284 Piety. I personally choose to use two Piety Vs which is +22 Piety, putting me at exactly 284, even before the Piety party buff.


Adding two Piety melds to your gear is completely optional. You might choose to meld more Spell Speed or Crit. I have found the Piety melds quite beneficial though, and my recommendation would be to meld the Piety. I choose to replace Piety with Crit melds to keep my Spell Speed as high as possible. So I’m sacrificing 24 Crit for 22 Piety, which is about 5 points of Intelligence. But think about how much DPS you could potentially lose over the course of a 10 minute fight.


A 10 minute fight will net you around 220 GCDs, give or take depending on how much downtime you have where the boss is untargetable. That means roughly 24 complete rotations. If the server tick screws you over even a quarter of those times,  that’s 6 Fire IVs and 3175 potency you lost just standing there waiting for mana. I would say that’s worse than losing 24 Crit. And if even one of those times causes you to lose Enochian, the effects are even greater.


But ultimately, the choice is yours. “I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” -Morpheus


  1. Managing Cooldowns


This is what will separate the mediocre Black Mages from the great ones. Everyone can learn an order of buttons to push to maximize damage for a 30 second opener. It really all comes down to maintaining that high damage output during the course of a 10+ minute fight. A lot of what goes into being good at your job isn’t just reaction, its preparation. So while the first thing we are going to talk about is important for every class, it’s especially important for Black Mage.


  1. Learning the Fight


A Black Mage is most devastating when allowed to stand still for an extended period of time. On fights with very little movement, BLM will out dps any other class. But unfortunately there are very few fights in the game which make this possible, which is what brings balance to the class. Therefore, learning a fight is extremely beneficial to us. When you have an idea of what’s coming, you can prepare yourself by prepping procs or by positioning yourself in a safe area. If you know a boss will become untargetable for 20 seconds, it might not be a good time to use Enochian. Or maybe you know the boss’s next attack is going to target a ranged DPS with a ground AoE, you can save your Firestarter or Thundercloud proc in case you are the one targeted, or activate Manaward or Manawall and take the hit if you know it won’t kill you. Ley Lines is a nice attack speed increase, but if you use it during a high movement phase of a fight, it may end up going mostly to waste. Knowing where to position yourself, and when movement is coming will be your greatest strength.


  1. Swiftcast


In my opinion, Swiftcast is our most useful cooldown. It has so many uses and it’s only a 60s cooldown. Swiftcast can be used to cast a spell on the move, to avoid hardcasting longer spells like Flare or Fire III, or used on Blizzard IV to refresh Enochian in an emergency. Once you are extremely familiar with a fight, you can use Swiftcast to quickly cast a final spell right before a boss becomes untargetable. I’ve also used Swiftcast to quickly apply the Heavy effect with Blizzard on fights like Alexander 3 Savage for the Liquid Gaol.


The duration of Swiftcast is 10 seconds, and it does not consume the buff on spells that are already instant cast. So for example, if you cast Swiftcast and then use Thundercloud, Firestarter or Scathe, you will not lose the Swiftcast buff.


As noted before, you should NEVER hardcast Flare on a single target.


  1. When is it OK to use Thundercloud?


This is probably the most frequently asked question when it comes to playing Black Mage, and it’s also the hardest to answer because it is completely impossible to quantify every scenario.


I’ll start off by saying that in a normal rotation under Enochian, you will cast ≥ 9 spells, depending on procs. Of those 9 spells, you must at least cast: Fire III, Fire, Blizzard III, and Blizzard IV. So that leaves 5 additional spells, which usually end up being four Fire IVs and a Thunder.


Pound for pound, Thundercloud has a higher Potency Per Second than Fire IV, as long is it’s allowed to tick at least once.


TC Proc: 390 potency + 40 potency + 5% Enochian = 451.5 / 2.5s cast time = 180.6 PPS

Fire IV: 280 potency * 1.8 Astral Fire III + 5% Enochian = 529.2 / 3.0s cast time = 176.4 PPS


The difficulty in figuring out when it’s ok to use Thundercloud though lies in its potential clipping. So for example, let’s say you are in Umbral Ice and cast Thunder as your filler. That’s 283.5 potency, and it will tick for your entire rotation, and you’ll refresh it in your next Umbral Ice phase.


Now, say you get a Thundercloud proc shortly after you apply Thunder. Well, we just figured out that Thundercloud is better than Fire IV right? So let’s say you replace your second Fire IV with a Thundercloud. Now your original Thunder dropped from 283.5 potency to 115.5 potency, because it only ticked twice.


Now Thundercloud is applied, and if that ticks its full duration of 24 seconds, that’s 745.5 potency. But wait, you’ll be back in Umbral Ice in 10 seconds. Unless you get an extremely fast server tick, you’ll need to use a filler after Blizzard III to make sure you’ll regenerate all of your MP. If you decide to refresh Thunder again as your filler, your Thundercloud just went from 745.5 potency down to 535.5 potency.


So in total, you lost 168 potency from your first Thunder, and only added a little over 6 potency by using TC instead of Fire IV. So that means you actually lost 162 potency by using TC to replace your second Fire IV, but you gained ½ second because TC is a shorter cast. But either way, you still come out short.


But what if you decide to not refresh Thunder and use Blizzard as your filler instead. Well that’s great because it will allow your TC to reach its full potency, but Blizzard is only 189 potency as opposed to the 283.5 you’d get from Thunder. So this actually ends up putting it about even in the long run, but then you’ll go a short time without Thunder ticking at all. Since Thundercloud is completely random and can trigger at any time Thunder is applied, it really makes it difficult to know when to use it.


So my recommendation is as follows: If you can fit a Thundercloud in your rotation without sacrificing a Fire IV, then by all means, go for it. But if you are having to choose between using a Fire IV or a Thundercloud, I would not use it on your first or second Fire IV. It would be better to replace your 3rd or 4th Fire IV, and then use Blizzard as a filler. Unless you get another TC, which could very well happen.


As I’ve said before in the guide, don’t worry about clipping at all if you have a Thundercloud proc and are forced to move. This will always be better than casting Scathe or nothing at all while you are moving.


  1. Sharpcast


If you are fighting multiple targets, Sharpcast is definitely best used on Thunder. Sharpcast > Thunder your first target, and then cast your Thundercloud on the second one. If you have Thunder ticking on multiple targets, your chance of getting another Thundercloud doubles. Cycle your TCs around to multiple enemies while trying to avoid as much clipping as possible. I’ll normally check whichever mob has the lowest timer left on Thunder and refresh that one first. If I get another proc, I’ll throw it on the next one in line, and so forth.


For single target though, you really have to know the fight in order to use Sharpcast optimally. Both Thundercloud and Firestarter have their advantages, and it all depends on the situation. Firestarter is better than Fire IV because it has a shorter cast time, and it has the added benefit of refreshing Astral Fire. So if you know you have movement incoming, you can prep a Firestarter and use that on the move without altering your rotation too much. However, in certain instances where you might have to be moving for an extended period of time, like say ≥ 10s, using Sharpcast to get a Thundercloud would be more beneficial. The reason for that is, the potential of getting additional TC procs during that movement.


Also note that if you currently have a Thundercloud proc available, you can Sharpcast that TC to immediately get another one. This works great for high movement phases or multiple targets.


If you have Swiftcast off cooldown, and know that you won’t need it for movement in the next 60 seconds, you can use Swiftcast & Sharpcast together. Trigger a Firestarter and then weave a swiftcast + Fire IV under that. For example:


Fire III > Sharpcast > Fire IV > Fire (procs) > Fire IV x 2 > Firestarter + Swiftcast > Fire IV > Blizzard III.


This just gives you a little extra PPS by weaving Swiftcast under Firestarter and shorter Fire IV cast.


Finally, if you aren’t in any stance, you can use Sharpcast > Fire > Enochian > Firestarter to get into Astral Fire III. You avoid the 3.5s cast time of Fire III and it costs less MP. It ends up being about 1.5s longer but adds 280 potency.


Note: There are many combinations and variations of Sharpcast you could use during your rotation. Feel free to experiment and find what works best for you and for the fight you are doing. In most scenarios, Sharpcast > Thunder will be better DPS. But I recommend strictly using Sharpcast with Fire when you are learning a fight. As you get more comfortable in a fight, you can start incorporating Sharpcast > Thunder.


  1. Raging Strikes & Ley Lines


As we talked about earlier, Raging Strikes and Convert both have a 3 minute cooldown, and Ley Lines is a 90 second cooldown. So by using Ley Lines as soon as it’s available, assures it will always sync up with Raging Strikes and Convert. You should always use those 3 abilities together. I also highly recommend using those cooldowns when you are in your 30 second Enochian rotation. It is possible to use it during the 20 second rotation, but you will have to refresh Enochian in the middle of the rotation. Don’t use Raging Strikes and Convert inside the 25 second rotation. You will lose Enochian.


If possible, you also want to use your potion during Raging Strikes. This all strictly depends on fight length though. Your potion cooldown is 4 and a half minutes, or 5 minutes if it’s Normal Quality. So let’s say the fight is 7 minutes. You know you’ll only be able to use Raging Strikes twice during the fight (the first being your opener), you can choose to delay using your second Raging Strikes and Convert for when you potion is ready. If it’s a longer fight, you can delay using your second potion for when RS and Convert are off CD.


Finally, when your buffs are off cooldown, re-executing your opener is slightly different. Since you are already in battle, you will be able to start your opener while you are in Umbral Ice III. This allows you to use a 1.75s Fire III at 442 MP and save your Sharpcast to give you a Firestarter. This is the rotation I use, but it requires around 1000 Spell Speed:


Mid Fight Burst: Blizzard III > Thunder > Ley Lines + Enochian + Raging Strikes > Fire III > Potion > Fire IV x 3 > Sharpcast > Fire > Swiftcast > Fire IV + Convert > Fire IV x 2 > Firestarter > Blizzard III > Thunder > Blizzard IV.


I am still testing other mid-fight burst rotations.


Another tip for using Ley Lines is to activate the buff, and then scoot all the way to one edge of the circle. Go as far as you can without leaving the circle. Now if you get targeted by a ground AoE, you should have enough room to move to the opposite edge of your Ley Lines, dodge the AoE, and still remain inside the Ley Lines. This works in most cases, unless the AoE is larger than the Ley Lines.

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  1. Your Party

This won’t always be possible, especially in Duty Finder, but if you are in a static for high end raiding or have any type of communication with your party, let them know what you need. We don’t have the same freedom of movement that most others have, and if we are forced to move too much, our damage drops off significantly, which affects everyone. So let them know if you need to stand still in a particular spot and opt out of dealing with a mechanic so you can continue dealing damage. As an example, let’s say there is a point of the fight where everyone needs to stack together to soak damage. As long as you’re in a decent position, you can have everyone run to you for the stack point instead of you running to them. Or maybe there is a mechanic that requires switching debuffs with another party member. It’s always beneficial to have the other person run to you.


Another thing is, let your healers know if you are planning on taking any avoidable damage so you can keep your rotation going. Black Mage is pretty much the only job where it’s universally accepted to purposely take avoidable damage, while Dragoons on the other hand are universally EXPECTED to take avoidable damage. /jab


You can also coordinate your buffs with the other members in your party. Bards for example, have an ability called Foe Requiem that reduces magic resistance on a target by 10%. That is increased to 20% if they pair it with another ability they have called Battle Voice. So by having your Bard use a Battle Voiced Foes when you are using Raging Strikes, Convert, and Ley Lines is a huge damage burst.


Other beneficial damage buffs to us are: Ninja’s “Trick Attack,” Dragoon’s “Battle Litany,” and Scholars “Fey Wind.” However, we can’t really plan for those because they are part of their rotations. There is also the Astrologian’s Balance and Arrow Card, but those are RNG. Finally, there is Machinist’s “Bishop Autoturret,” but the odds of you ever seeing that are quite low.


  1. Freeze


So I wanted to touch on the Freeze spell. The damage on this spell is quite low compared to your other AoE spells but you can still find a use for it under the right circumstance.


I’ll start off by saying, Freeze has slightly higher PPS than Blizzard II so there really isn’t a reason you should ever use Blizzard II over Freeze. Now 99% of the time you won’t use this ability at all, and you’ll just stick to your normal AoE rotation; making sure to land as many Fire IIs and Flares as possible. During dungeon runs where you are fighting packs of trash mobs, Your Blizzard AoEs are not needed. The damage is just too insignificant.


However, there are a few situations where Freeze can be beneficial to your DPS. I like to think of it as an Umbral Ice stalling tool. I mostly see this happen in mob gauntlets or add phases of boss fights.


So let’s say you’re fighting a group of 5-6 enemies. You’re using your normal AoE rotation ending in Flare > Transpose. After those adds die, you move on to the next phase of the fight, and you can get right back into your single target rotation. Now in order to maximize your dps, you want to make sure you’re in Umbral Ice III with full MP when the boss becomes targetable again. Well you can accomplish this by using Freeze on that group of 5-6 enemies you were just fighting. This way, you’re still doing AoE damage to a pack of mobs, but you are assuring you are in Umbral Ice III when they die. Now this only works if your Flare doesn’t kill them.


So as an example: You cast Fire III > Fire II x 3 > Flare > Transpose. The mobs are still alive, but you know they won’t be alive long enough to do another AoE rotation. You can then cast Freeze x 2 on those mobs which will put you into Umbral Ice III. The adds then die and the boss or next set of adds spawn and, voilà. You’re in UI III with full MP. This assures that you have a halved Fire III cast at low mana cost.


  1. Movement


There are only a few boss encounters in the entire game where you can stand completely still, so mastering movement in a fight will be what really takes your damage to the next level. When learning a fight, I normally spend the first few pulls figuring out exactly when the first potential movement will be, and then build my opener around that. You always want to learn the mechanics of the fight first. Once you start to feel comfortable with mechanics, it’s time to start optimizing your damage output. In order to do that, you have to experiment, take risks, and find out exactly what you can get away with, without putting yourself or your party in danger. Figure out exactly what mechanics you can ignore, how much damage certain boss abilities do to you under Manaward/Manawall, safe zones of the arena, etc.


Also, it’s important to note that there will be instances where switching back to the level 50 rotation will be more beneficial than trying to keep Enochian active. Examples of this would be certain add phases where there is a lot of movement and/or the adds die incredibly quick. If there is a lot of movement, you will get more Firestarter procs when you are casting Fire as opposed to Fire IV. Plus if the adds have very low HP, there is nothing more frustrating than being halfway through a Fire IV or Blizzard IV and the add dying midcast; resulting in you losing the GCD and even losing Enochian or Astral Fire. This is just another example of knowing the fight and adapting to the situation.


  1. Firestarter & Thundercloud


Your procs are designed so you can cast on the move. If you have to move, any proc you have becomes your #1 priority, regardless of potency or clipping. After becoming extremely comfortable and familiar with a fight, you’ll know when certain mechanics are coming and you can either prep a proc with Sharpcast, or hold on to one you get naturally for a few extra seconds. Use your swiftcast and Aetherial Manipulation if you don’t have any procs, and finally if you have no other option, you can use Scathe. As mentioned earlier in the guide, I only recommend using Scathe if you have to move for longer than a single GCD and have no other cooldowns available.


  1. Aetherial Manipulation


This is only a 30 second cooldown and should be in a spot on your hotbar where it’s always at the ready. This cuts down on movement and allows you to move around the battle arena with ease. It is off the Global Cooldown so it’s best used under a proc, but you can’t always plan for that. There are many fights in FFXIV that require the group to stack and soak damage. You can continue casting, and use this ability to quickly get to your position. It’s also incredibly useful for dodging ground AoEs.


  • Macros


A macro is a single command that activates a customizable sequence of commands or actions. Macros can be extremely beneficial, and can be used for a number of things like: Informing your party when you are executing a specific ability, or for combining multiple abilities to save space on your hotbar. Macros also have their shortcomings though.


In FFXIV, there is something referred to as skill queuing. Skill queuing is the ability to queue the next spell before your current spell ends. When the GCD is about 3/4ths completed, you can queue up the next ability by pressing the action. This allows the next action to be executed immediately after the previous ability ends with extremely minimal delay. Skill queuing however, does not work with macros. So it is my recommendation to never use any macros to perform any sort of rotation. You should have complete control over all of your abilities.


I also don’t recommend using Macros to combine cooldowns like Manawall and Manaward, which I have seen some Black Mages do. They have two different effects, and you need to be able to use the right skill for the situation. If you specifically need the second skill in your macro, than you would have to waste the first one to get to it.


You can create a macro by manually inputting a series of text commands in the “User Macro” submenu (Menu > System > User Macros). You can assign a customized name for the macro, and then insert your commands that you would like the macro to perform.



Command Shorthand Effect
/macroicon “Action Name” none Changes the Icon of the macro to the specified action’s icon and displays its cooldown timer.
/action [action name] /ac Uses the specified action
/recast [action name]


none Displays the time remaining until the specified action can be used again
/mark [sign] /mk Marks the selected target with the specified sign
/focustarget none Sets the selected target as your focus target
/wait [time]


none A command for adjusting the wait between commands
/party [message] /p Sends a message to all party members



Target Description
Selected target
Your selected target’s target
Your character
Selected target under your mouse cursor
Selected focus target
Party member number 1
Party member number 2
Party member number 3
Party member number 4
Party member number 5
Party member number 6
Party member number 7
Party member number 8



/macrioicon “Sleep”

/ac “Sleep”

/mk ignore1

/p Casting Sleep on Ignore


A sleep macro which marks and informs your party

which target you are putting to sleep

/macrioicon “Virus”

/ac “Virus”

/p Casting Virus on Ignore


Informs your party that you are casting Virus

to prevent others from using their cooldown

/macrioicon “Eye for an Eye”

/ac “Eye for an Eye”

/p Casting E4E on


Casts Eye for an Eye onto your selected target’s target

which should be your tank

/macroicon “Apocatastasis:

/ac “Apocatastasis”


Uses Apocatastasis on your selected target’s target which should be your tank.

/macrioicon “Aetherial Manipulation”

/ac “Aetherial Manipulation”


Uses Aetherial Manipulation to the party member

which your mouse cursor is on

/macrioicon “Aetherial Manipulation”

/ac “Aetherial Manipulation”


If you play with a controller, you could set your party

list to your preference and you will use this ability to teleport to the party member second on your party list. I set mine so a healer is always second



Sets your selected target as your focus target.

Great for controller play

/macroicon “Raging Strikes”

/p Raging Strikes ready in


Informs your party the time remaining on Raging Strikes

before a pull


These are just a few examples of some effective macros. I don’t suggest flooding your chat log with everything you are doing, and if you are in a static with voice communication, you won’t have much need for party chat macros. But they can sometimes be useful in Duty Finder to let your party members know you are casting something so they don’t waste their cooldown as well.


Another tip is, in your Macro menu, Macros #98 and #99 are designated slots that you can assign to L3 and/or R3. So you can make a /sprint Macro for example, and set it to L3 to remove the Sprint action from your hotbar to save space.


Feel free to experiment with macros and find out what works best for you. My only recommendation is to never use macros to execute a rotation. Keep all of your abilities in your complete control so you can execute them exactly when you need them. I personally only use three macros. An Aetherial Manipulation macro, a Face Target macro, and a Focus Target Macro.


  • Hotbars


Since I play on controller, I’ve had quite a few questions about how I set up my hotbars. Now, of course I’m in no way saying this is the best way or anything like that. You have to do what feels comfortable and natural to you. But if you’re looking for some ideas, maybe this will help.


First, I highly recommend using additional cooldown hotbars as seen below. The reason for this is to keep track of all your cooldowns that are on different sets. In Character Configuration > Hotbar Settings > Display Tab, there is a box you can check to “Hide Unassigned slots” so you are only seeing the slots that are filled. You can also uncheck the box “Display hotbar numbers” which could clutter up your interface.


Also, in the same menu under the Cross Tab, I choose to have my set selection enabled for only Hotbar 1 and Hotbar 2. So pressing R1 only cycles between those two hotbars at all times. You can customize this however you see fit.

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Set 1: Should include your main rotation abilities and any CDs that you will normally use on cooldown.

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Set 2: I prefer to put my slightly more situational CDs on Set 2, while keeping all my Fire spells in the same position. This allows me to start a Fire cast, and during the cast switch to Set 2 to use Lethargy for example. Once the cooldown has been activated, I can cast my next Fire spell from Set 2 and switch back to Set 1 during that cast. It saves microseconds, but those add up over the course of a long fight.

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Expanded Hotbar: With a class like Black Mage, I prefer to only use one expanded hotbar. So L2>R2 and R2>L2 are the same. I don’t feel we have enough abilities to warrant using 2, but if you’re comfortable with that, then by all means. On a class like SMN or SCH, I will use 2 expanded hotbars.


For my expanded, I put all of my most used utilities on the left and my most used movement abilities on the right.


The commonality between all of my hotbars is to keep abilities such as Scathe, Swiftcast, Firestarter, Thundercloud, Aetherial Manipulation, etc. on the face buttons as opposed to the D-pad. This way, I can use all of those abilities while keeping my left thumb on the left analog so I comfortably continue moving. Whereas, I have abilities on the D-pad where I’d normally be standing still.


So that’s just a few tips and maybe it can help if you’re struggling to find a place to put your abilities.


*Edit: I have since moved Sprint from my Hotbar to a Macro set to L3 and replaced it with the Potion. In addition, I have placed Max-Ethers where the previous Potion was on Set 2*


  1. Credits & Additional Links


I wanted to create a guide that not only explained the rotations and optimization for max-level Black Mages, but also for new players to BLM and FFXIV alike. And so I would like to thank Aikaal Leyma of Faerie, Sleigh Presty of Diabolos and Aemon Targaryen of Excalibur for their contributions to this guide and the Black Mage Community in general. I would like to credit Sen Bosa of Sargatanas for his idea and work for the optional Piety melds. Credit goes to Dervy for his work on the DPS stat weights. I would also like to thank all the other great contributions by the entire FFXIV community on the FFXIV forums and r/ffxiv subreddit. I couldn’t have done this guide without them.


Best in Slot Calculator


Dervy Does Theorycrafting


Black Mage Sanctuary


Black Mage Openers Spreadsheet


Black Mage Opener Video


3 Minute Rotation – A8S Dummy


Contact Me






  1. Change Log


I will continue to update this guide through each patch, expansion and any changes to Black Mage. If you have any input, suggestions, comments or concerns, feel free to contact me in game, on the forums or Reddit. My username is Garotte14 and in game name Alayna Lazriel on Hyperion. Stop by my twitch or youtube to see any videos if you’d like.


22 Feb 2016: Original Guide

11 Mar 2016: Black Mage Opener Video added

20 Mar 2016: “Hotbar” section added

31 Mar 2016: 3 Minute A8S Dummy Rotation Video added

16 Apr 2016: “Stat Weights”section added

16 Apr 2016: “Piety Melds” section added

21 Apr 2016: “When is it OK to use Thundercloud” section added

24 Jun 2016: Updated Stat Weights for Patch 3.3

09 Sep 2016: Updated Opener Spreadsheet and PPS with increased Spell Speed

19 Sep 2016: Modified Sharpcast Openers added in BLM Opener Spreadsheet.

07 Oct 2016: With changes to Face Target in 3.4, I have removed that section.

31 Oct 2016: Stat weights for Patch 3.4 have been updated.[/fusion_text][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”30px” bottom_margin=”30px” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][fusion_widget_area name=”avada-custom-sidebar-728×90″ background_color=”” padding=”” class=”” id=””][/fusion_widget_area]