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FFXIV Summoner updated 3.4

FFXIV Summoner updated 3.4

[fusion_widget_area name=”avada-custom-sidebar-728×90″ background_color=”” padding=”” class=”” id=””][/fusion_widget_area][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”15px” bottom_margin=”” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]The 3.4 Summoner: An Extensive Guide

The first thing I want to say is please do not get intimidated. I had three goals for this document:

  1. Extensively compare Black Mage and Summoner and try to figure out which job is better in a raiding scenario.
  2. For those who decide to main Summoner for one reason or another:
    1. Explain in depth both the basic fundamentals and the hidden details of Summoner
    2. Explain how to play Summoner at a basic level
    3. Introduce Summoner openers
  3. Explore some advanced theorycrafting and dive into the math behind Summoner

As such, this guide is broken up into three parts.

Part 1: Black Mage or Summoner?

Part 2: The 3.4 Summoner Guide

Part 3: Advanced Theorycrafting

First off, please do not feel pressured into reading this entire document if you neither have the time nor the interest. I set up a Table of Contents on the following page that will take you directly to whatever topic you’re interested in when you click on the links.

If you don’t care about the Black Mage or Summoner debate, feel free to start at the 3.4 Summoner Guide.

If you don’t care about learning Summoner – or if you just don’t have the time – and just want to see the openers, here are the direct links below:

 

  • Sleigh’s Opener – By Philia Felice (Sleigh) on Gilgamesh | Video
  • The 1F/2P Opener

 

However, if you have both the time and the interest to read through this entire document, it’s full of details, analysis and number crunching concerning Summoner and its role in a raiding static. Reading through this entire document should give you a deeper, well-rounded understanding of Summoner and guide you into becoming a better Summoner.

Regardless of how you choose to approach this document, I thank you for your time and interest in my work and hope you enjoy it.

Hai Hai

 

Part 1: Black Mage or Summoner?

→    Black Mage: Pros and Cons

→    Summoner: Pros and Cons

Part 2: The 3.4 Summoner Guide

DoTs

→    Calculating a DoT’s Overall Potency

→    Clipping Your DoTs

→    DoTs and Buffs

Pets

→    Ifrit-Egi or Garuda-Egi?

→    Pet Commands, Positioning, and Management

→    Pet Buffs

Aetherflow

→    Bane or Painflare?

→    Aethertrail and Dreadwyrm Trance

→    Making the Most Out of Dreadwyrm Trance

Thinking Like a Summoner

→    Getting Ready for Battle

The Openers

→    The ED Opener

→    Sleigh’s Opener

→    The 1F/2P Opener

The Aftermath

Part 3: Advanced Theorycrafting

Conclusion

Black Mage or Summoner?

Before 3.0 Heavensward came out, Summoners were a rarity to find – their lack of DPS and MP issues made them clearly inferior to Black Mage. As a result, a large majority of caster raiders switched to Black Mage for Final Coil of Bahamut (2.4). The utility that Black Mage offered in Manawall, Manaward and Apocatastatis as well as their unlimited resource pool was only icing on the cake to the fact the best Black Mages were able to out DPS the best Summoners in pretty much every fight.

The only time Summoner was used during world progression in Final Coil was when the Bane trick was discovered in Turn 12, which was hotfixed by the end of the second week. I’ll be going into detail about the Bane trick later on. Otherwise it was Black Mage all the way.

This was heavily due to the nature of the fights – Black Mages were able to find ways to move as little as possible and set up as a turret. A Black Mage’s damage scales directly with how little he has to move so that he can continually keep casting. Furthermore Black Mages not only did more single target damage but also more Area-of-Effect (AoE) damage as well. There was literally no reason to take a Summoner over a Black Mage.

Summoner, on the other hand, was (and still is) the complete opposite of Black Mage. Summoners boasted high mobility and the large majority of their damage came from Damage-over-Time abilities (DoTs). They also offered more multi-target damage in scenarios where enemies cannot be near each other: T10, T11 and Bismarck Extreme are all old examples of scenarios where Summoners excelled. In these fights, Summoners were able to apply DoTs on all targets and have them running on all enemies, while Black Mage was only able to single target (T10 being an exception – a lot of us loved to flare the adds) and spread their Thunders to increase their chances at a Thundercloud proc.

With the release of 3.0 Heavensward, Black Mages received a significant Flare nerf, which was their primary AoE ability. In exchange, they received a lot more single target damage in Fire 4 and a small 10 potency buff on Fire.

Summoners, on the other hand, were gifted with Painflare, Dreadwyrm Trance, Deathflare, and Bane buffs. These skills established Summoners as the kings and queens of AoE damage. Their ability to consistently output AoE damage over a long period of time can easily make the class top the damage charts in fights with multiple enemies.

I’ll start off by making one thing immediately clear: both jobs are fine to play in your daily dungeon or in your farm groups. There’s absolutely no reason to feel like you should play one job or the other because one is “better.” When it comes to daily activities such as dungeons, play whatever you want. Anything works.

A lot of my analysis here will be in regards to undergeared progression in a raid setting. In a raid setting, Black Mages and Summoners both offer advantages and disadvantages based on the fights.

Black Mage: Pros and Cons

Black Mages excel in fights with single target enemies, where they can stay in one place for a prolonged period of time.

Pros

  • More single target burst
  • Higher DPS than Summoner on a single target
  • Manaward and Manawall are useful for mitigation
  • Apocatastatis is useful as a raid mitigation cooldown

Cons

  • Horrendous flexibility when it comes to mobility – any movement at all will result in a DPS loss.
  • Lower AoE damage
    • No incentive to use Flare as often since waiting for an MP tick when you have multiple haste buffs running (Ley Lines, Astrologian’s Arrow buff, Selene buff) can be considered a DPS loss.
    • Fire 2 uses considerably more MP than Fire 4 for only 20 more potency on 3 targets (300 potency divided by 3 targets compared to 280 on 1 target), which means you get less casts in Astral Fire phase.
  • Misplacing a spell can easily lead to dropping stacks and/or Enochian, resulting in a massive DPS loss

Summoner: Pros and Cons

Summoners excel in fights that have multiple enemies and requires mobility.

Pros:

  • Highly mobile.
    • Ruin 2 and Bio are both instant casts and a lot of their damage comes from their instant-cast off GCDs (oGCDs) such as Fester
    • The rest of their damage comes from their pet and their DoTs, neither which restrict your mobility
    • Tri-Disaster adds a way to apply DoTs while on the run
  • Large amounts of AoE damage
    • Painflare (200 potency) and Deathflare (400 potency) don’t have AoE caps like Flare or Bane
  • Easy methods to spread DoTs
    • Tri-Disaster + Contagion + Bane does wonders
    • Also extremely easy to spread DoTs on two targets that can’t be near each other with Tri-Disaster
  • Ruin 3 provides great single target damage
  • Dreadwyrm Trance gives 10% increased damage
    • Pretty much inside of Dreadwyrm Trance for 25% of the fight.
  • Zero MP problems
    • Having Tri-Disaster up every 60s fixes a lot of the MP problems
  • Supervirus, in case no scholar
  • Battle Resurrection
    • Should now be the go-to Resurrection user because of no MP problems

Cons:

  • No single target burst without stacks
    • In scenarios where you have to kill adds quickly, this is the summoner’s weakest area
    • Even with Aetherflow stacks, you only have three of them and your highest damage ability, Fester, needs DoTs before using, and you only get one Deathflare per minute (if you don’t hold onto Aetherflow)
  • Lots and lots of buttons
    • Not only do you have lots of skills but you should also have keybinds for pet actions
  • Rotations can get really packed and complicated, especially in the opener
  • Less single target damage than BLM
  • Easy to lose Aethertrail stacks if not paying attention

So what’s the answer, then? Which class is better, Black Mage or Summoner?

Honestly, in 3.0, I was all about debating what class was better. Nowadays though, it can be seen quite clearly that you can play whichever class you feel more comfortable with. The World 1st A12 Savage was cleared with a Summoner, Leith Noir, who also came up with the ED opener in this guide! The World 2nd was cleared two hours later with a Black Mage. (The World 3rd was cleared with no caster at all!)

They obviously offer distinct differences based on fights and compositions, but if you want to main Summoner or play it extensively, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t. So the answer is, play whatever you want!

The 3.4 Summoner Guide

Assuming that you’ve decided to play Summoner, the majority of this document will be about optimally playing Summoner to its fullest potential and catching you up on the little tips and tricks that come with the job.

Please note that I am by no means an amazing summoner. There will be a lot of people that know the job better than me, and their insight will prove even more valuable than mine. I’m hoping, however, to use what I know to help those that wish to learn.

My main goal in this portion of this document is to help those who are changing their main job to Summoner learn and develop a deeper understanding of the job. As such, many expert and experienced players might find some details obvious and redundant – I apologize ahead of time if I end up boring you.

This part of the guide assumes you are interested in improving your play as a player and that you have basic knowledge of game mechanics – however, it does not assume that you are experienced or an expert at the game. I am here to help you learn and develop your skills, not only as a summoner but as a player.

To effectively explain Summoner, I have broken up the guide into four different sections:

DoTs, Pets, Aetherflow, and Thinking Like a Summoner. DoTs, Pets, and Aetherflow are the three core components of the Summoner playstyle and it’s important to understand how each part works.

If you’re still interested, let’s get started.

DoTs

Damage-over-Time abilities (DoTs) are a core portion of a Summoner’s damage. The following abilities make up the entirety of a Summoner’s DoTs:

Bio        Miasma    Bio 2        Miasma 2    Shadowflare        Tri-Disaster

The new Summoner ability Tri-Disaster will immediately apply Bio, Miasma and Bio 2 to a single target at no cost and has a 60s cooldown.

DoTs do damage over a set period of time at regular intervals, known as ticks. In this game, DoTs do damage in accordance with the server ticker, which ticks every 3 seconds. This means that your DoT will deal damage every 3 seconds on the server tick as long as it’s applied to the target. Note that the server ticker will continue on regardless of your DoTs. Let me explain:

Let’s assume that the server ticker begins at 0:00 on the clock, and ticks every 3 seconds. You apply Miasma at 0:00, and then Bio at 0:02. When the clock hits 0:03, any DoTs you have on the target will do damage, so both Miasma and Bio will do damage. They will deal damage again at 0:06, 0:09, and so on.

Calculating a DoT’s Overall Potency

The general rule for calculating the overall damage of DoTs is to multiply the potency by its duration and then divide it by 3. The duration divided by 3 will give us the number of times the DoT will tick.

Let’s take Bio as an example.

Bio does 40 potency per tick and lasts for a total of 18 seconds. If we divide the total duration by 3 (because of the 3s server ticker), we find that Bio will tick a total of 6 times in 18 seconds. If Bio ticks for 40 potency 6 times, the result is Bio will deal 240 potency overall.

Skill Potency Duration Ticks Overall Potency
Bio 40 18 6 240
Miasma 35 24 8 280 (+20 on application)
Bio 2 35 30 10 350
Miasma 2 10 15 5 50 (+20 on application)
Shadowflare 25 30 10 250

 

The reason it’s important to know the overall potencies of your DoTs is so that you’re aware of what skills do the most damage and where your damage comes from, and DoTs tend to be the most deceptive. Your filler damage skill is Ruin, which does 80 potency.

Let’s assume that use your Global Cooldown (GCD) to just spam Ruin over and over, so you would only be doing 80 potency per GCD (which would be extremely depressing to watch). Now let’s take one of those GCDs and use Bio instead. Bio won’t do any initial damage, but after 6 seconds it will have ticked twice and dealt a total of 80 potency, the same potency as a single Ruin. So in terms of potency per GCD, Bio broke even with Ruin after 6 seconds. However, if we go the entire duration of Bio, Bio will deal a total of 240 potency after 18s. So effectively, by replacing a single Ruin with a Bio, you’ve made the value of that GCD three times greater than just using Ruin.

In order to maximize your damage, you want all of your DoTs running all of the time. Applying Bio, Miasma and Bio 2 to a target only takes 3 GCDs, which is 3 Ruins or 240 potency. However, Bio, Miasma, and Bio 2 collectively add up to a total potency of 890! Getting 890 potency out of 3 GCDs instead of 240 is a massive increase – but obviously, you can only obtain these potencies if you allow the DoTs to tick for their entire duration.

Note that Miasma 2 is an exception: You don’t want Miasma 2 running all the time. Miasma 2 only offers 70 total potency. Since Miasma 2 is AoE, it’s better in situations with multiple enemies, and it will also deal more damage than Ruin when extended by Contagion. However, Miasma 2 without Contagion will always do less than a single Ruin on a single target, so it’s not worth maintaining Miasma 2 without the correct conditions.

Clipping Your DoTs

Now let’s talk about clipping. Clipping is when you reapply your DoTs before they’ve worn off entirely. The way that FFXIV makes DoTs tick every 3 seconds means you have a 3 second window to reapply your DoTs before the next tick. I find it best to explain this visually:

Time    00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Bio       |——————————————————————————————————-|

So we applied Bio at :02 on the clock and it expires at :20. The last time the server ticked was :18, which means we have 2 seconds left on Bio. If we apply Bio when the original Bio has 2 seconds left, we will have caught both the tick before and after the reapplication.

So visually speaking,

Time        18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Bio            ————-|

New Bio      |——————————

By overriding the new Bio by a second or two, we didn’t lose out on any of the previous Bio’s damage: we caught both the tick before and the tick after by reapplying Bio inside of the 3 second window. Note that unless you’re paying extremely close attention, you won’t know when the server ticker actually ticks – by refreshing Bio inside of the 3 second window before Bio ends, you won’t need to know the exact timing of the server ticks and you ensure you don’t waste any of those damage ticks.

However, the implications of clipping your DoTs also means that if you clip your DoTs enough then you’ll have spent more GCDs and MP to refresh your DoTs than you needed to.

To explain: if you keep clipping Bio at 2 seconds left, eventually the 2s that you keep clipping off the end of Bio’s duration will add up to 18s, which is another Bio. So you unnecessarily spent the extra GCD and MP to use Bio again, even if you never missed any damage ticks.

So as a general rule, it’s safe to refresh your DoTs anytime after there’s 3 seconds left on the DoT so you won’t miss the damage tick, but try to get as close to 0 as possible so you make the most use out of the duration of the DoT.

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DoTs and Buffs

The way that DoTs and buffs interact in this game can be compared to a camera taking a snapshot. When the DoT is first applied, it “snapshots” all of the buffs that it has. This includes:

  • Bard’s Foe’s Requiem
  • Ninja’s Trick Attack
  • Raging Strikes
  • Dreadwyrm Trance
  • X-Potion
  • Dragoon’s Battle Litany
  • Astrologian’s Balance card
  • Any Vulnerability Debuff given by mechanics (Such as when the snakes die in T5)
  • Spell Speed buff from Pet Crit

The DoT takes the snapshot of its buffs and keeps it for its entire duration, until it either falls off or is overwritten by a new DoT’s snapshot. This means that if you apply Bio during Trick Attack’s 10 second window, Bio will continue to do the increased damage for its entire duration even after Trick Attack has fallen off. This applies to all buffs: if you have Raging Strikes, Dreadwyrm Trance, and X-Potion on you while Trick Attack and Battle Voiced Foe’s Requiem is on the boss, and you use Bio, Bio will act as if it has all the buffs for its entire duration regardless of when the individual buffs actually fall off.

Since DoTs work this way, there are many implications that come with it:

  • Garuda-Egi’s Contagion will extend each of your applied DoTs by 15s. This means that you will get 5 more ticks of each of your snapshotted DoTs.
  • Bane “copies” the snapshotted DoTs and places them on the surrounding enemies. This means that even if you Bane after all of your buffs wear off, the newly DoT’ed enemies will still have the buffed DoTs on them as well.
  • In the past, this mechanic was taken advantage of in T12. During the first two weeks of Final Coil, hitting Blackfires with Whitefires would apply a vulnerability stack to the Blackfire. Raiders would hit one Blackfire with three Whitefires to give it 3 vulnerability stacks, DoT that Blackfire and then Bane those DoTs onto Phoenix. Since the Bane’d DoTs snapshotted the vulnerability debuffs, the DoTs on Phoenix would do massive amounts of damage as if Phoenix had 3 vulnerability stacks himself. Instead of changing how Bane worked, Square Enix decided to instead make Whitefire give a decreased health debuff to the Blackfires instead of a vulnerability debuff.

Speaking of Contagion, here’s a table of DoTs with Contagion added in:

Skill        Potency    Duration    Ticks        Overall Potency    Total

Bio                 40           18[+15]         6[+5]          240     [+200]           440

Miasma         35           24[+15]        8[+5]           280 (+20) [+175]    475

Bio 2              35           30[+15]        10[+5]         350     [+175]             525

Miasma 2     10           15[+15]         5[+5]           50 (+20) [+50]          120

Using Contagion on all four of your DoTs will result in a total gain of 600 potency. This potency is, of course, further multiplied by any buffs that you may have applied your original DoTs with. So it’s always a good idea to Contagion your super DoTs. Prolonging the duration of your DoTs also helps you save on MP.

An important thing to note is that both Miasma and Miasma 2 deal an upfront 20 potency in addition with their DoT damage. These upfront 20 potencies is unique to the abilities and only work when you use Miasma and Miasma 2. If you apply Miasma via Bane or Tri-Disaster, it will only do 280 total potency instead of 300.

Furthermore, Potent Poisoning Potion functions as another DoT and can be extended by Contagion. Potent Poisoning Potions, however, ignore buffs, so Raging Strikes or X-Potion do not affect them.

Pets

Bow down overdwella’

Pets are just as important to Summoner damage as DoTs are. Even though most of the time Summoners will put a pet on Sic and forget they exist, pets still consist of a third of a Summoner’s overall damage.

Novice players can easily summon a pet and ignore them and still do a decent amount of DPS. My goal here is to teach you how to maximize your pet’s damage contribution to its fullest via micro management. Even though that sounds scary and overwhelming, it’s not as bad as you might think!

In a raid setting, only two of the three pets are viable: Ifrit-Egi and Garuda-Egi (I dream of a day that Titan-Egi will be viable in raiding content. Titan-Egi is best girl. RIP the days when Titan-Egi soloed Ramuh Extreme all by himself. What a beast.)

Each pet takes on a different role:

Titan-Egi is a Tank-style pet that deals low amounts of damage but has mitigation and threat generation abilities.

Ifrit-Egi is a Melee-style pet that is able to auto-attack while using his abilities.

Garuda-Egi is a Caster-style pet that provides utility. She pretty much always has to be on Obey, where you have to manually manage her cooldowns.

In a raiding setting, Titan-Egi is pretty much useless because you already have two tanks (unless your static runs 8 Warriors like real men) and your job is to be a DPS, so you want to bring as much damage to the table as possible. Titan-Egi still finds love in solo content though.

Ifrit-Egi or Garuda-Egi?

The big question that always comes up is this: which pet does the most damage?

Each pet has its own advantages and disadvantages in every fight. I hope to be able to teach you of those advantages and disadvantages and help you decide which one to use in which fight.

In terms of raw DPS, Ifrit-Egi beats out Garuda-Egi by a small amount. Since Ifrit-Egi is a melee pet, he needs to be next to the boss in order to deal his damage. However, this also means that Ifrit-Egi gets the added benefit of being able to auto-attack, which Garuda-Egi doesn’t have.

Ifrit-Egi’s main damage ability is Burning Strike, which deals “135 potency,” while Garuda-Egi’s main damage ability, Wind Blade, deals “110 potency.” First thing that I want to establish here is that the tooltip potencies on your pets are extremely deceptive: your pet’s potency is not as potent as your own.

For example, if 100 of your potency deals 100 damage, then 100 potency of Garuda-Egi’s would deal roughly 70 damage. This is due largely to the Arcanist traits Maim and Mend 2, which increases your damage by 30%. While you receive the direct damage benefits from Maim and Mend 2, your pets do not. So despite Garuda-Egi having the same exact stats as you do, she’ll roughly only do ~77% of the damage per point of potency that you do.

While Garuda-Egi has been tested and safely assumed to share your stats without Maim and Mend 2, Ifrit-Egi is an entirely different story. If Ifrit-Egi was allowed to directly share your stats and have auto-attacks, he would easily destroy Garuda-Egi in DPS. However, as it stands now, despite Ifrit-Egi having “25 more potency” on his main attack and having auto-attacks, he only does roughly 20-30 more DPS than Garuda-Egi on a dummy.

If you were to go to a dummy at this very moment and parse both Garuda-Egi and Ifrit-Egi, you would easily see that Ifrit-Egi’s auto-attacks make up for 40% of his damage. Remember, Garuda-Egi doesn’t auto-attack at all, and Ifrit-Egi’s Burning Strike technically has “25 more potency” than Garuda-Egi’s Wind Blade. So Ifrit-Egi should easily beat Garuda-Egi by at least 1.5 times her DPS. If you ignore Ifrit-Egi’s auto-attacks though, you’ll find that Ifrit-Egi’s Burning Strike actually does 50-60 less DPS than Garuda-Egi’s Wind Blade.

It can be safely concluded that Square Enix took Ifrit-Egi’s auto-attacks into account and incorporated a damage down-scaler in Ifrit-Egi which tones down his stats. Finding the direct damage formula is rather difficult. From tests though, we can find that Ifrit-Egi beats Garuda-Egi on a dummy by 20-30 DPS thanks to his auto-attacks.

Being a melee also has its disadvantages: anytime Ifrit-Egi has to switch targets or move to follow the enemy, he’s no longer attacking, which is a considerable DPS loss. On the other hand, Garuda-Egi can switch targets effortlessly as long as she’s within range of both targets, and she can also continue to hit a moving target.

Both pets also provide a decent amount of utility.

Garuda-Egi’s Contagion is one of every Summoner’s favorite skills. Contagion extends all of the DoTs that you’ve applied to the target by 15 seconds. This applies even if those DoTs are buffed heavily, so it’s extremely useful to use after you apply buffed DoTs. Furthermore it’s only on a 60s cooldown and lines up nicely with Tri-Disaster, which means you can pretty much always pair the two abilities up.

Ifrit-Egi’s Radiant Shield, on the other hand, was buffed so that it now applies to every party member in a 15 yalm radius around Ifrit-Egi. The Radiant Shield buff will counter any physical damage with a 50 potency attack towards the source. So for instance, every time a boss auto-attacks the main tank, Radiant Shield will deal 50 potency to the boss. Assuming that the boss auto-attacks the main tank 10 times in the 20 second duration, that will result in a total of 500 potency.

Note that Radiant Shield’s potency scales off of the strength or dexterity of the person being hit. This means that physical units will deal the most damage with Radiant Shield. When any caster or healer gets hit (including yourself) and counters, the damage returned will be minimal compared to a strength-oriented or dexterity-oriented player.

Cool thing about Radiant Shield though: the entire party (given they’re all standing in Ifrit-Egi’s range) gains the Radiant Shield buff, not just the main tank. This means that if a boss uses a physical-type AoE move that hits the entire party, Radiant Shield will return 400 potency (well, 8 times 50 potency scaled to each person’s strength or dexterity) to the boss from a single attack. This is particularly useful in fights like Ravana Ex where the party soaks a cleave. This is just icing on the cake though, his Radiant Shield can be more than useful enough on the main tank alone. The effect is even more amplified in scenarios where both tanks are tanking multiple enemies.

Lastly, the final comparison to make between Ifrit-Egi and Garuda-Egi are their super moves from Enkindle. Many people don’t actually know what Enkindle does because there’s no in-game tooltip. Ifrit-Egi and Garuda-Egi both have particularly similar Enkindle moves though.

Garuda-Egi’s Enkindle move is called Aerial Blast. It deals 250 potency to the target and all the targets surrounding it.

Ifrit-Egi’s Enkindle move is called Inferno. It deals 200 potency to all enemies in a cone in front of it and applies a DoT. This DoT lasts for 15s and deals 20 potency per tick. This adds up to a total of 300 potency per enemy hit.

The neat thing about Enkindle is that since it’s an ability that you use and not your pet, the potencies scale directly off of your stats and receive the direct benefits of Maim and Mend 2 as well as potions. Not only that, but Ifrit-Egi’s Inferno ignores his damage down-scaler, so his Inferno actually does more damage than Garuda-Egi’s Aerial Blast. So in terms of potency, Ifrit-Egi’s Inferno beats Garuda-Egi’s Aerial Blast by 50 potency per target as long as Ifrit-Egi’s Inferno hits all the targets. It’s important to realize that Garuda-Egi’s Aerial Blast covers a larger range and can also be cast from a distance, while Ifrit-Egi’s Inferno has to be cast next to the target.

To summarize, here’s a quick table comparing the two:

Ifrit-Egi        Garuda-Egi

Main Attack        Burning Strike    Wind Blade

→Potency        →”135”        →”110”

Auto-Attacks    Yes            No

Ranged        No            Yes

Utility            Radiant Shield    Contagion

→Potency        →Highly Variable    → Highly Variable

Enkindle        Inferno        Aerial Blast

→Potency        →300            →250

→Damage Area    →Cone            →Circle

→Radius        →5 yalms        →5 yalms

AoE Move        Flaming Crush    Aerial Slash

→Potency        →”110”        →”90”

→Radius        →5 yalms        →5 yalms

Status Move        Crimson Cyclone    Shockwave

→ Potency        →”110”        →”90”

→ Effect        →Stun            →Knockback

So who’s better, Garuda-Egi or Ifrit-Egi?

Ifrit-Egi is better in fights where:

  • He can stay still for a majority of the fight
  • Doesn’t have to change targets
  • Single-target fights
  • Utilize Radiant Shield effectively (fights with multiple enemies, fights where the entire party takes physical damage)
  • Examples include: Turn 8, Turn 11, Alexander Normal Floor 1

Garuda-Egi is better in fights where

  • The target moves around quite a bit
  • There are multiple targets that you have to switch between
  • Large amount of AoE phases
    • Garuda-Egi excels in this area entirely due to Contagion: getting an extra 15s  on all of your DoTs and then using Bane closes the gap fast to whatever AoE potency lead that Ifrit had with Radiant Shield and Flaming Crush.
    • Aerial Slash also deals more damage than Flaming Crush due to Ifrit-Egi’s damage down-scaler.
  • Examples include: Bismarck Extreme, Turn 5, Alexander Normal Floor 2

Pet Commands, Positioning and Management

If you want to take the step from being a decent Summoner to a great one, you have to learn how to control your pet. Even though the AI can be wonky at times, knowing how to move your pet around and force your pet to change targets is essential.

The relevant pet movement commands are:

Heel: Commands your pet to come to you.

Place: Commands your pet to move to a designated location.

Put these two abilities on your keybinds and spend 5 minutes moving your pet with Place and recalling him with Heel. Once you get used to it, you’ll naturally be able to move your pet in stressful fights without fumbling. Heel in particular is useful when the pet is sitting in front of the boss and eating cleaves (Garuda-Egi pls why u do dis). Make sure your pet is in range of your healers! Your healers’ AoE heals will also heal your pet.

One of the most important parts of pet management is target selection. There are three commands that are relevant to target selection:

Steady: Commands your pet to calm the fuck down and not hit anything. Super useful in fights where you don’t want to push phases or kill shit.

Sic: Commands your pet to attack the target and use his abilities by his own free will.

Obey: Commands your pet to attack the target but refrain from using any abilities other than his main attack.

You don’t necessarily need Steady on a keybind, but I would highly, highly suggest putting Sic and Obey on keybinds. When you figure out that your Garuda-Egi is hitting the wrong target (for example, continually Wind Blading Living Liquid in A3 when he’s invulnerable) you can spam Obey and force her to change to your current target.

If you’re not always aware of who your pet is attacking, you can’t go wrong by spamming Obey or Sic while using your own abilities – you can use any pet commands or abilities without interfering with your own casts. Also, remember that pets make up for a third of your overall DPS. If your pet spends entire minutes whacking an invulnerable target, you’ve only been doing two thirds of your potential DPS in that entire phase!

Note that Obey and Sic both make the pet target your target, but Obey gives you manual control and Sic is automatic. You’ll typically use Obey most of the time so you can manually use Contagion and Radiant Shield.

I can’t stress enough how important target-management is for pets. It’s especially relevant in fights where you have to kill enemies quickly but you don’t have any Aetherflow stacks – a prime example being the Butterfly phase in Ravana Extreme. Instead of having your pet hit Ravana the entire time you’re freaking out about the butterflies, force your pet to kill the butterflies with you. Learn to use Obey and Sic!

Pet Buffs

Every Summoner comes with two useful pet buffs:

Rouse: Increases Cure potency (for Scholar fairies) and Damage Dealt by 40%. While Roused, pet is immune to pretty much every status effect.

Duration: 20s        Cooldown: 60s

Spur: Increases a pet’s physical and magical attack power by 40%.

Duration: 20s        Cooldown: 120s

Man I wish when I used these buffs, they would apply to me instead of my pet because holymoly these are some awesome buffs. Don’t neglect these buffs! They make your pet super strong and they also work with Enkindle. Both Spur and Rouse have some neat synergy regarding their cooldown timers as well.

The way the cooldowns line up is like so:

Time        Abilities

0         Rouse + Spur + Enkindle

60        Rouse

120        Rouse + Spur

180        Rouse + Enkindle

240        Rouse + Spur

300        Rouse

360        Rouse + Spur + Enkindle

However, as Rouse and Spur are buffs unique to your pet, your own buffs are unique to yourself: Raging Strikes, Dreadwyrm Trance, and other self buffs will not apply to pets. The only “buffs” that apply to pets are the ones that directly change your base stats, which would be food and potions. Pet stats will also be copied and updated from your own stats either when you summon them or when you use Spur.

Furthermore, the release of 3.0 Heavensward brought some great changes in pets!

First off, all pets now deal magic damage. Ifrit-Egi used to do all sorts of melee damage and worked with a Monk’s blunt damage debuff. Now Ifrit-Egi deals entirely magic damage and works with Foe’s Requiem.

Secondly, pets no longer have to meet the melee accuracy requirement. This was particularly obnoxious for Summoners pre-3.0 because Summoners would always have to match the melee accuracy requirement instead of the Caster’s. Now Summoners can just meet the same accuracy requirement as Black Mage.

Thirdly, pets receive their owner’s food buffs! It’s a nice benefit to have.

Fourthly, pets now receive potion bonuses. This actually has tremendous influence on how Summoners will now handle pets – they used to split up Spur + Rouse + Enkindle from the X-Potion + Raging Strikes usage. Now that pets immediately receive the benefits from X-Potion, it’s important to stack that X-Potion with Spur, Rouse and Enkindle as well as your own ability usage.

Last but not least, spell speed now increases the damage that DoTs do. Summoners (and Scholars) have a trait that has been widely undervalued pre-3.0: whenever your pet performs a critical hit, you receive a 20% spell speed buff. Spell Speed was pretty much useless pre-3.0 due to the fact that most of a Summoner’s damage was gated by the duration of their DoTs, so the only benefit you got was an extra Ruin or two. Now that DoTs do increased damage with spell speed, applying DoTs during the pet’s Spell Speed buff will do a bit more damage, especially as Summoners get more and more Spell Speed.

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Aetherflow

Aetherflow:

Restores 20% MP and gives three Aetherflow Stacks

Cooldown: 60s

Aetherflow is the 3rd component of a Summoner’s damage. Using Aetherflow will restore 20% of your total MP. However, Aetherflow’s main purpose is that it gives you three Aetherflow Stacks which you can use on different abilities that consume one stack each. The four Aetherflow abilities that Summoners have consist of:

Energy Drain: 150 potency, single target, returns 50% damage dealt as MP

Cooldown: 3s

Bane: Spreads a target’s Bio, Miasma and Bio 2 to all surrounding targets, including the DoT’s remaining duration. 15% chance to refresh the DoT’s duration to their full duration. Any targets affected after 3 targets will only receive 50% damage from the DoTs. Cooldown: 10s

Fester: If the target is afflicted by your Bio, Miasma, and Bio 2, Fester will deal 100 potency for each DoT for a maximum of 300 potency.

Cooldown: 10s

Painflare: Deals 200 potency to the target and all surrounding targets.

Cooldown: 10s

Energy Drain is used as a means to quickly burn through Aetherflow stacks in the scenario that Painflare and Fester are on cooldown and you want to get into Dreadwyrm Trance as quickly as possible. It also serves as a decent recovery tool for restoring MP in the event that you die. People also like using it in the opener to make up MP for using Ruin 3 outside of DWT.

Fester is the one ability out of the four that deals the most damage to a single target and is likely to be your primary damaging ability. After Deathflare, Fester is your highest damaging burst skill.

In any scenarios where there are multiple enemies near each other, both Bane and Painflare will be more useful than Fester. Since Painflare does 200 potency per target, it automatically beats Fester in any situation where you can hit two or more targets with it. Furthermore, if you find that you can’t apply DoTs to an enemy fast enough in order to get the maximum potency out of Fester, Painflare is a fast alternative. The question is, which skill is more useful in AoE situations, Bane or Painflare?

Bane or Painflare?

Warning: Lots of Unnecessary Math (What have I done? Save me)

So the burning question is… Why is this relevant? Why are you making me read this? Why should I care? I just wanna use Akh Morn on things ;_;

As you do your Expert roulette on your Summoner, I bet you can’t help but wonder the same thing I do. The tank pulls 7 enemies and I have to deal the most AoE damage I possibly can. This is what I do (assuming you just used Aetherflow):

Aetherflow → Shadow Flare → Tri-Disaster → Contagion → Miasma 2 → Bane → Painflare → /laugh → /cry

So you’re at one Aetherflow stack left, you want to get into Dreadwyrm Trance but the enemies all are hovering at 60% health remaining. You have to decide whether to reapply a fresh set of DoTs and use Bane, or use Painflare for that instant 200 potency per target.

Most people will go with Painflare because of its immediate damage. But after you burn through Painflare and Deathflare and the enemies are still alive with 30% health left, isn’t it so absolutely obnoxious when all of the enemies no longer have DoTs on them and you have no way to spread your DoTs while you wait for 30 seconds on Aetherflow? So you sit there twiddling your thumbs and spamming Ruin or Blizzard II while the adds chill at 30% health and you can’t do anything! So you regret using Painflare instead of reapplying DoTs with Bane.

So yes, this is relevant because it’s more than likely you’ll have to make the decision between Bane and Painflare more than once, even in raiding content. So let’s get started.

Let’s say theoretically you’re fighting a pack of three enemies. You have a single Aetherflow stack left and you have a choice of either using Painflare or using Bane to spread DoTs from one target onto the other two. In this scenario, Painflare will always deal 600 potency. Bane’s potency, however, depends on how long the DoTs last for.

Since we’d have to apply DoTs to one target in order to spread the DoTs via Bane, let’s begin with the assumption that we are not including the DoT damage from the source target in our calculations. Since we’re trying to find the optimal use of an Aetherflow stack, we have to assume one target will already have DoTs on it regardless of how we use the Aetherflow stack.

The DoTs will tick for a total of 110 potency – 40 from Bio, 35 from Miasma and 35 from Bio 2 – every 3 seconds on the two additional enemies (remember that we’re assuming that there are 3 targets total).

This means that after 6 seconds, both adds will have taken 220 potency for a total of 440.

After 9 seconds, both adds will have taken 330 potency for a total of 660. So if your DoTs last longer than 9 seconds on the two additional adds, you’ll have gotten better use out of Bane than a Painflare, which only did 600.

Below is a table that helps visualize the mathematical relationship between Bane and the course of time per additional target. In these calculations we are still ignoring the damage dealt by the DoTs to the source target. Furthermore, due to the Bane changes, any additional targets affected by Bane after 3 targets will only receive 50% of the damage dealt.

Additional Targets

Time

+1 +2 +3 +4

(Dmg cut 50% for >3)

+5
0s 0 0 0 0 0
3s 110 220 330 385 440
6s 220 440 660 770 880
9s 330 660 990 1155 1320
12s 440 880 1320 1540 1760
15s 550 1100 1650 1925 2200
18s 660 1320 1980 2310 2640

In comparison, here is a table for Painflare. In our calculations for Painflare, we are including the damage that it deals to the source target.

Targets 2 3 4 5 6
Potency 400 600 800 1000 1200

So if you’re super confused and have a headache trying to understand this (I know I do) then I’ll try to explain it as simply as possible:

If your DoTs will tick on the enemies for 9 seconds or more, then it is almost always better to use Bane instead of Painflare. The only scenario where this is not true is if you only have 2 total targets. In that scenario, the DoTs would have to last 12 seconds or longer to surpass Painflare’s damage.

So in short, you have to make your decision based on how long the enemies are alive for. Is it a situation like the add phase in T10, where the adds are alive for long periods of time? In this scenario you’ll want to save all of your Aetherflow stacks for Bane. Or is it like the Butterfly phase in Ravana Ex, where you need to kill the adds as quickly as possible? In this scenario, since the butterflies only live for 5 to 10 seconds, it’s almost always better to Painflare if you can.

Furthermore, in dungeon content it’s almost always better to spread out your stack usage and only use Bane. If you use all of your burst on one pull, you’ll have nothing up for the next pull. This, of course, changes if you have a tank+healer that like to pull the entire dungeon. In that case, just use everything to burst as quickly as you can.

Note that these examples are hypothetical – Final Coil is level 50 content and Painflare wasn’t available. What I’m trying to do is to make you play out these scenarios in your head so that you’ll be prepared if something similar occurs to you again in the future.

Aethertrail and Dreadwyrm Trance

With the addition of Dreadwyrm Trance to the Summoner kit came another mechanic: Aethertrail (AT) Stacks. After using any Aetherflow (AF) ability, Summoners will gain a single Aethertrail stack. The stack has a duration of 30s and caps out at a total of 3 stacks. At 3 Aethertrail stacks, the Summoner can use Dreadwyrm Trance (DWT).

Dreadwyrm Trance: Increases magic damage dealt by 10%, lowers MP cost of Ruin 3 to the cost of Ruin, and allows usage of Deathflare. Requires and consumes 3 Aethertrail stacks.

Duration: 15s        Cooldown: 30s

Ruin 3: Deals 200 potency. MP cost is 6 times higher than Ruin outside of Dreadwyrm Trance but costs the same as Ruin inside of it.

Deathflare: Instantly deals 400 potency to the target and the targets surrounding it. Requires and consumes Dreadwyrm Trance on use.

Duration: 15s        Cooldown: 30s

Ruin 3 is basically a stronger version of Ruin that you use in Dreadwyrm Trance. However, if you can spare the MP, don’t be afraid to use Ruin 3 outside of Dreadwyrm Trance.

There are a couple of important details concerning Aethertrail stacks that aren’t made immediately clear.

First off, if you use an AF ability and it does absolutely nothing, then you do not receive the AT stack despite consuming the AF stack. This happens in a variety of situations:

  • Boss is invulnerable
  • You use Fester on a target with no DoTs
  • You use Bane on a target with no DoTs
  • Your Bane doesn’t hit any targets

Normally, it seems obvious that you shouldn’t waste your AF stacks like this but trust me, it happens to even the best of players.

Furthermore, in situations where the enemies are untargetable for extended periods of time, it is highly probable that you can lose the AT stacks since they only last 30s. This typically happens in situations where the boss disappears from the field and you were holding onto your last Aetherflow stack for Fester.

As a Summoner, your goal is to use Dreadwyrm Trance and Deathflare as much as possible, since they’re both massive damage boosts (15s of 10% increased damage and a 400 potency nuke). As such, your top priority is to have a 100% Conversion Rate between Aetherflow, Aethertrail, and Dreadwyrm Trance. The basic rotation goes something like this:

Aetherflow (3AF, 0AT) → DoTs → Fester (2AF, 1AT) → Fester (1AF, 2AT) → DoTs

→ Fester (0AF, 3AT) → Dreadwyrm Trance (0AF, 0AT) → Deathflare → Aetherflow

If you mess up and you either don’t convert an AF stack to an AT stack via a botched Fester or if you accidently let the AT stacks run their full duration and expire, you lose an entire 15s of Dreadwyrm Trance and a Deathflare.

Let me explain. In any given fight, you get a set number of Aetherflow stacks. These stacks are given to you every 60 seconds. As such, you should be able to convert these AF stacks to enter Dreadwyrm Trance once per minute.

If you botch the Conversion, you lose a minute’s worth of Dreadwyrm Trance and Deathflare.

Say we’re in a fight and the fight typically lasts 10 minutes. Including the 3 stacks that you begin with, you’ll get a total of 33 (3 initial stacks + 3 AF stacks per minute multiplied by 10 minutes) AF stacks over the course of the fight, which converts into 11 individual Dreadwyrm Trances. If you botch the Conversion, you lose 1 of those 11 Dreadwyrm Trances. If you mess up again, you lose another one. So pay attention!

Here is a list of easily made mistakes that will ruin your day and cause you to lose out on a Dreadwyrm Trance:

  • Letting any number of Aethertrail stacks run their full duration and expire
  • Botching a Fester or a Bane on a non-DoT’d target
  • Using Bane and not hitting any additional targets with it
  • Using Aetherflow while still having any number of Aetherflow stacks
  • Using an Aetherflow ability while having 3 Aethertrail stacks
  • Using an Aetherflow ability on an invulnerable target

This brings up another interesting point: Aetherflow stacks, Aetherflow usage, Aethertrail stacks and Dreadwyrm Trance can all coexist.

In a normal mid-fight scenario, this won’t be relevant because you’ll be converting your Aetherflow stacks into Aethertrail stacks and entering Dreadwyrm Trance before the next Aetherflow comes up.

However, at the very beginning of the fight, you typically begin with 3 Aetherflow stacks while also having Aetherflow available for use, effectively giving you a total of 6 Aetherflow stacks. This means that you can use Aetherflow abilities inside of Dreadwyrm Trance to build Aethertrail stacks for the next Dreadwyrm Trance.

I’ll try to explain this scenario visually:

Action            AF Stacks    AT Stacks

Aetherflow         3        0

Summon pet        3        0

Wait 60s        3        0

Boss is pulled        3        0

DoTs            3        0

Fester             2        1

Fester             1        2

Fester             0        3

Aetherflow        3        3

Dreadwyrm Trance     3        0

DoTs

Fester             2        1

Fester             1        2

Deathflare

Wait until AT stacks are about to expire

Fester             0        3

Aetherflow        3        3

Dreadwyrm Trance    3        0

Fester             2        1

As you can see, by the second time you use Aetherflow, you can have 3 AF and 3 AT stacks at the same time. You can also build AT stacks while inside of Dreadwyrm Trance. This has huge implications for the opener, which I’ll be covering later.

A good way to prevent your Aethertrail stacks from falling off is to delay your third Fester until the very end of the Aethertrail duration. By doing this you have 30-40s of your initial 2 Aethertrail stacks and then another 30s of 3 AT stacks, giving you plenty of breathing room and plenty of time to use Dreadwyrm Trance.

Doing it this way also makes it possible to use two of your Aetherflow stacks inside of Dreadwyrm Trance everytime as well, like so:

Aetherflow (3AF, 0AT) → DoTs → Fester (2AF, 1AT) → Fester (1AF, 2AT) → DoTs

→ Wait 25s → Fester (0AF, 3AT) → Aetherflow (3AF, 3AT)

→ Dreadwyrm Trance (3AF, 0AT) → Fester (2AF, 1AT)

→ Fester (1AF, 2AT) → Deathflare → Wait 25s → Fester (0AF, 3AT)

→ Aetherflow (3AF, 3AT) → Repeat

Holding onto your Aetherflow stacks and spreading out your third Aethertrail stack as far as possible allows you to get two Festers inside of Dreadwyrm Trance, which gives a total 60 (300*2*.10) potency gain per Dreadwyrm Trance. However, you typically want to prioritize Ruin 3 over Festers inside of DWT, which means you’ll normally just get one Fester off.

Making the Most Out of Dreadwyrm Trance

Do you remember earlier in the guide where I explained the importance of knowing the potencies of your abilities? Dreadwyrm Trance is the place where this knowledge shines.

Since Dreadwyrm Trance increases all damage by 10%, you want to fit as much potency you can in the 15s duration before using Deathflare. As such, here’s a list of your abilities that will get buffed by Dreadwyrm Trance (so excludes pet actions such as Enkindle) in order from strongest to weakest.

Skill                Potency

Extended Bio 2        525

Extended Miasma        455(+20)

Extended Bio            440

Deathflare            400

Bio 2                350

Fester                300

Miasma            280(+20)

Shadow Flare            250

Bio                240

Ruin 3                200

Painflare            200

Energy Drain            150

Extended Miasma 2        120

Ruin 2                80

Ruin                 80

Miasma 2            70

Tri-Bind            30

Auto-attack            ??

Luckily, Summoner has innate synergy when it comes to applying extended DoTs. Tri-Disaster, Contagion and Aetherflow all have a 60s cooldown. This means that if you time things correctly you can use Tri-Disaster + Contagion inside of every single one of your Dreadwyrm Trances.

Since Tri-Disaster takes care of the DoT problem, let’s look at the other things that we want to do while inside of Dreadwyrm Trance.

Something I explain in detail in the Advanced Theorycrafting section is that using any GCD that you can use outside of DWT, inside of DWT, is a potency loss. The reason being anytime you use a GCD inside of DWT besides Ruin 3 you effectively move that slot’s Ruin 3 outside of DWT, turning it into a Ruin. Everytime this happens results in a total of 200*1.1 – 80 = 140 potency loss!

For example, replacing a Ruin 3 with Shadow Flare inside of DWT means you’re replacing the Shadow Flare that you would’ve used outside of DWT with a Ruin. Even though Shadow Flare gains 25 potency from DWT you lose 140 potency for using Ruin instead of Ruin 3!

All five of your GCDs inside of Dreadwyrm Trance should optimally be Ruin 3s. If you need to weave oGCDs then Ruin 2 is acceptable. However, with the Ruin 3 buff (120→200) in 3.2, it is always better to prioritize Ruin 3 over any other ability in DWT, including oGCDs (except Tri-Disaster).

If any of your DoTs fall off while in DWT, your top priority is to refresh them with Tri-Disaster. Besides that, you should only be using Ruin 3 in DWT. The only exception to this is if you have to move – in that case, use Ruin 2 and Fester.

If you have Aetherflow stacks available, you’ll want to use Fester. You do not want to use Painflare or Energy Drain instead of Fester for the sake of using it inside Dreadwyrm Trance. It’s easy to see this from a mathematical standpoint.

Fester deals 300 potency. Painflare deals 200 potency.

10% damage increase on Painflare means that it will deal 220 potency inside of Dreadwyrm Trance, which is still less than Fester’s 300 potency outside of Dreadwyrm Trance. Therefore, saving your Aetherflow stacks for Festers outside of Dreadwyrm Trance is worth more than using them on Painflare inside of it. Note that this is assuming single target. If there are two targets or more, Painflare wins all the way.

So after using Tri-Disaster, you can pretty much spend the rest of your time using Ruin 3. After the 5th Ruin 3, immediately use Deathflare.

Also, do not mess around with Deathflare. It’s extremely easy to miss the window to cast Deathflare if you try to run Dreadwyrm Trance’s duration to the very end. Missing your Deathflare because you let Dreadwyrm Trance expire is not only the saddest thing ever but you’ll also want to commit sudoku. Optimally, you want to end on a Ruin 3 → Deathflare. If you only have 2 seconds left and feel that you can’t finish Ruin 3, use Ruin 2 → Deathflare. If you find yourself at 1 second left, ignore Ruin 2 entirely and spam Deathflare.

Furthermore, you should stack your big damage cooldowns with Dreadwyrm Trance so you get the most damage amplification possible, as well as a buffed Deathflare. I’ll be going into detail on an opener that utilizes this notion later on in the guide.

Thinking Like A Summoner

Alright, now that we’ve covered the three fundamental core components of Summoner, let’s bring it all together.

When people switch over to Summoner, a lot of people first try to figure out the best Summoner rotation. Having a rotation implies that you know exactly what order you’re supposed to use your skills. For example, the Black Mage rotation uses Fire 4 and Fire until they run out of MP and then they switch to Umbral Ice phase to use Blizzard 4. Black Mages have a set order that they want to execute their skills in order to maximize their DPS.

My personal philosophy is that Summoner doesn’t have an established rotation but rather a list of priorities. While you can formulate and plan out your entire rotation on Black Mage, Summoner is much more reactive. Observing your DoT durations, deciding whether to Bane DoTs onto enemies or to Fester, controlling your pet and keeping a close eye on your cooldowns are all reactionary elements.

Summoners excel when they’re able to effectively control and manage all three of their core components: DoTs, Pets and Aetherflow. In order to do this, you have to be observant enough to know what’s happening at all times.

So instead of thinking like a Black Mage and working out an established rotation, think more like a Summoner and develop a list of priorities in your head and follow it.

Most Summoners will have a list of priorities like this:

  1. DoTs (Bio, Miasma and Bio 2) running continuously with no downtime
  2. Aetherflow on cooldown as much as possible – use Aetherflow stacks optimally: Fester on single targets, Bane and Painflare for multiple targets
  3. 100% Aetherflow to Aethertrail to Dreadwyrm Trance Conversion Rate – don’t drop Aethertrail stacks
  4. Load as much damage into Dreadwyrm Trance, use Ruin 3 as much as humanly possible, don’t miss Deathflare
  5. Ruin 2 spam to move, handle mechanics and weave oGCDs – don’t delay your GCD
  6. Pet management – correct position, attacking the right target, Spur+Rouse+Enkindle on cooldown
  7. Raging Strikes + X-Potion used optimally for the fight and on cooldown
  8. Optimal Shadow Flare placement –  maintaining it and casting it when enemies are untargetable
  9. Swiftcast Resurrection if the healers can’t handle the MP loss or don’t have swiftcast
  10. Ruin spam (Ruin 3 if you can spare the MP) when everything is done
  11. Optimal Eye for an Eye and Virus placement
  12. Optimal Quelling Strikes placement

Please note that this is just my own personal list of priorities. Other expert Summoners will prioritize different goals – that’s the beauty of the job: Summoner is extremely flexible and adaptable. They’re highly mobile and their wide spread of damage provides a low risk, high reward style of play. A Summoner misplacing an ability is recoverable – the most risk that Summoners typically run is either having their pet die or mismanaging their Aetherflow and Aethertrail stacks.

So if you want to think like a Summoner, you gotta know what’s important and what to prioritize.

Getting Ready for Battle

Before we dive onto the battlefield, let’s make sure that we have everything we need. In this section I’ll be covering cross-class skills and stat prioritization.

Raging Strikes: Deals 20% increased damage for 20s.

Obtained: Archer Lvl 4    Cooldown: 180s

Swiftcast: Your next spell is instantly cast.

Obtained: Thaumaturge Lvl 26    Cooldown: 60s

Quelling Strikes: Decreased threat generation for 15s.

Obtained: Archer Lvl 34    Cooldown: 120s

Surecast: Next spell is cast without interruption.

Obtained: Thaumaturge Lvl 8        Cooldown: 30s

Blizzard II: Deals 50 potency to all nearby enemies and binds them for 8s

Obtained: Thaumaturge Lvl 12

Listed above are the five cross-class skills that every Summoner uses (“uses” – I don’t remember the last time I actually used Surecast on my Summoner). Raging Strikes and Swiftcast in particular are extremely important to Summoners and are regularly used in every fight.

Quelling Strikes is useful in scenarios where you know you’re about to generate a lot of threat, particularly via a buffed Deathflare or Bane’d buffed DoTs. Remember, a dead Summoner deals no damage!

Surecast and Blizzard II are not used often at all and are very situational. Surecast is only useful if you can predict an interrupt – this normally happens with boss AoEs. Blizzard II is useful in AoE scenarios where you would be using Ruin: even with only two enemies hit, Blizzard II will deal 100 total potency which is better than a Ruin.

If you want to play Summoner at a serious level, make sure you have all of your cross class skills. There’s no reason not to have them. So you should level Archer to at least level 34 and Thaumaturge to at least level 26.

Now, let’s talk about optimal equipment. As a general rule, use the equipment with the highest item level: they provide the most stats. This is particularly important in weapons – Weapon Damage offers the most damage per point. Even a small increase in one or two Weapon Damage can result in a 50-100 DPS increase.

The next priority is to get as much intelligence as you can. You get more damage per point of intelligence than you do any other secondary stat. This pretty much comes with item level as well.

In general, secondary stat prioritization for Summoners is:

Meet Accuracy Cap > Critical Hit Rate > Determination = Spell Speed @ 750 > Spell Speed

Always, and I mean, always meet the accuracy cap for the fight. We’ve talked about wasting GCDs – imagine losing a buffed Ruin 3 or DoT because you missed. It’s a lot worse for melees and Black Mages because they can lose a combo chain, but it’s still really bad to miss on Summoner regardless. Make sure you meet the accuracy cap.

After that, Critical Hit Rate is king, hands down. As an extra bonus, if your pet crits, then you get a handy Spell Speed buff that everyone tends to forget about.

Then after that, you want to prioritize Determination and getting Spell Speed to around 750. At 750 Spell Speed, you can potentially fit 6 GCDs into DWT, which is a full Ruin 3. Once at 750 Spell Speed, you want to prioritize Determination over Spell Speed.

The Openers

Before I introduce the openers, I want to make one thing clear: every single fight is different. The opener depends completely on how the fight starts. For instance, multiple enemies? You want a Bane somewhere. Boss goes invulnerable really early? You want to unload your burst fast. As such, it is up to you, as the player, to use your newfound Summoner knowledge to modify your opener based on the fight.

Secondly, there’s a ton of variation in Summoner openers: people like to put certain skills in certain places. If you were to ask 5 different Summoners how they do the ED opener, they’ll likely have small differences in where they put skills. But in general, every opener follows a specific pattern. I will attempt to show you these patterns, and you can mold whatever opener you like best as your own.

In this document, I will include 3 openers:

 

  • The ED (1ED/1P/1F) Opener – By Leith Noir on Ragnarok
  • Sleigh’s Opener – By Philia Felice on Gilgamesh

 

  1. The 1 Fester / 2 Painflare (1F/2P) opener

The general consensus of many raiders right now is that they prefer the ED opener. It breaks even on the early Ruin 3’s MP cost and puts you into DWT the fastest, allowing you to comfortably catch the party buffs.

Sleigh’s Opener carries on the 2F/1P spirit from pre-3.2. More details on his opener can be found here. It boasts a swiftcasted Ruin 3 in DWT, which smoothly covers Aetherflow and Tri-Disaster. The opener does require a decent amount of Spell Speed. Full credit to this opener goes to Sleigh / Philia Felice on Gilgamesh / u/Mockbuster on Reddit.

What these two openers have in common is the unloading of every oGCD, besides Tri-Disaster, before entering DWT, which should be standard now with the Ruin 3 buff. DWT should be spent using Ruin 3 only.

One big difference between the two is that Sleigh’s Opener saves a small amount of DWT time with the swiftcasted Ruin 3 covering Tri-Disaster. The ED opener has to take that small amount of DWT time to use Tri-Disaster immediately after using DWT.

The 1F/2P opener is from before the Ruin 3 buff. It focused on using strong oGCDs such as Fester and Enkindle inside of DWT at the cost of using Ruin 2 instead of Ruin 3. With the Ruin 3 buff, it is now a complete DPS loss to use anything other than Ruin 3 inside of DWT, including oGCDs (except Tri-Disaster). I’ve left the 1F/2P opener in just in case it receives updates in the future that makes it viable once again, but as it is right now, it is outdated.

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The ED Opener

By Leith Noir on Ragnarok | Video

Assumption: Spell Speed set at 0, so using 2.5s GCD, No Spell Speed bonus from pet crits

Aetherflow + Summon Garuda

Time        GCD            oGCD

-6s        Shadow Flare        Rouse + Spur

-2.5s         Begin Bio 2

0s        Miasma

2.5s        Bio        Energy Drain + Pot

5s        Ruin 2        Swiftcast + Raging Strikes

7.5s        Ruin 3        Enkindle + Painflare + Fester

10s        Ruin 2        Aetherflow + DWT + Tri-Disaster

12.5s        Ruin 3        Contagion

15s        Ruin 3

17.5s        Ruin 3

20s         Ruin 3

22.5s        Ruin 3        Deathflare

25s        Ruin 2        Fester

27.5s        Shadow Flare

Note: With enough Spell Speed, you can and should fit either another Ruin 3 or a Ruin 2 + Fester into DWT before using Deathflare.

Sleigh’s Opener

Source – Sleigh | Philia Felice on Gilgamesh | u/Mockbuster on Reddit | Video

Required: A decent amount of SS to fit 6 Ruin 3’s in DWT

Aetherflow + Summon Garuda

Time        GCD                oGCD

-6s        Shadow Flare        Rouse + Spur

-2.5s         Begin Bio 2

0s        Miasma

2.5s        Bio            Delayed Fester

5s        R3 / SF

7.5s        Ruin 2            Pot

10s        Ruin 2            Raging Strikes + Painflare

12.5s        M2 / R2    SC +Enk + F + DWT

15s        Ruin 3            Aetherflow + Tri-Disaster

17.5s        Ruin 3            Contagion

20s         Ruin 3

22.5s        Ruin 3           

25s        Ruin 3

27.5s        Ruin 3            Deathflare + Fester

30s        Shadow Flare

 

1F/2P Opener

Assumptions made:

  • Spell Speed set at 0, so using 2.5s GCD, No Spell Speed bonus from pet crits

Aetherflow + Summon Garuda

Time        GCD            oGCD

-6s        Shadow Flare

-2.5s         Begin Bio 2    Painflare

0s        Miasma

2.5s        Bio        Rouse + Fester

5s        Ruin 2        Spur + Raging Strikes

7.5s        Ruin 2        Pot

10s        Ruin 2        Painflare +  DWT

12.5s        Miasma 2    Aetherflow + Fester

15s        Ruin 3

17.5s        Ruin 2        Tri-Disaster + Enkindle

20s         Ruin 3        Contagion

22.5s        Ruin 2        Deathflare + Fester

25s        Shadow Flare

The Aftermath

After executing the opener, you’ll begin to follow your innate list of priorities: keep your DoTs up, keep Aetherflow on cooldown and get into Dreadwyrm Trance as much as possible.

Ruin 3 is important! Use it as much as you can inside of Dreadwyrm Trance. With the 3.2 buff to Ruin 3, you should also attempt to use Ruin 3 outside of DWT while paying close attention to your MP, as Ruin 3 over Ruin is a full 120 potency per use. So if you have the extra MP, a long break is coming, or if a MP Song is being played, don’t be afraid to splurge a bit on Ruin 3 outside of DWT instead of Ruin.

Don’t be afraid to use Ruin 2 instead of Ruin: Summoners used to have massive MP issues in the past but since both Ruin and Ruin 2 got their MP costs lowered and since we got Tri-Disaster, MP has been a nonfactor. Utilize Ruin 2 to move across the battlefield, dodge mechanics and weave oGCDs.

Pay attention to your pet and make sure your pet is targeting the right enemy! Keep Spur + Rouse + Enkindle on cooldown.

After you open, try spreading out your Aethertrail stacks and using Fester at the last possible moment to refresh them. By doing so, you can wait to enter Dreadwyrm Trance when Aetherflow, Tri-Disaster and Contagion are all close to coming off cooldown.

If you can stand in melee range without crowding the boss, do so and make sure your auto-attacks are running on the enemy by right-clicking it.

Be smart! Don’t be afraid to try new things. Remember that all of a Summoner’s power is in his DoTs, so make sure you get those DoTs up on as many enemies as you can. Also, Bane’s range is deceptively large – if you feel like the enemies are too far apart, try Bane anyway and try to get a feel for how large it’s range is.

Try to coordinate Eye for an Eye and Virus usage with your party.

If you think you can handle the responsibility, become the top priority as Resurrection User instead of healers. Save your Swiftcast in case of emergencies and immediately get your fallen ally up. You have a lot less MP problems than the healers do right now.

Advanced Theorycrafting

Clipping Your DoTs: Advanced

Getting the Most Out of Your GCD

Clipping Your DoTs: Advanced

Since I’ve released this guide I’ve gotten a lot of questions concerning when you should clip your DoTs by a significant margin in the event that you have your buffs up. For example, if you have a whole 15 seconds left on Shadow Flare and your Dreadwyrm Trance is about to end, is it better to clip off that 15 seconds on Shadow Flare so we can get a new buffed copy of Shadow Flare?

Most Summoners would typically believe that it should be better to clip off an unbuffed DoT so we get the full duration of a buffed one because it seems like it should be a damage increase.

The only way to find the answer is to dive into the math behind clipping your DoTs.

You’ll remember these numbers from the DoTs portion of the guide. These numbers will serve as the foundation of our calculations.

Table 2.1: Ability Potencies

Skill Potency / Tick Potency on Use Duration # of Ticks Total Potency
Bio 40 0 18 6 240
Miasma 35 20 24 8 300
Bio 2 35 0 30 10 350
Shadow Flare 25 0 30 10 250

Raging Strikes (RS) Multiplier: 1.2 (20% increase)

Dreadwyrm Trance (DWT) Multiplier: 1.1 (10% increase)

Mini Math Lesson:

If you want to know the reason the multiplier is just 1.(the percent), so like why the RS multiplier is 1.20, we can prove this by using the Distributive Property. If you wanted to know what 20% of 100 was, you would multiply 100 by 0.20, which is 20. Since it’s a damage increase you would add that new number, 20, to the original damage, 100. So mathematically, it’s written like this:

Buffed Damage Total = 100 + (100*0.20)

If we just pull the 100 out of there via the Distributive Property, we get:

Buffed Damage Total = 100(1 + (1*0.20)) or when simplified,

Buffed Damage Total = 100(1.20).

The more you know

First, let’s calculate the buffed potency given to each DoT by Raging Strikes and find the potency gained. The calculation is pretty simple: just multiply the potency by the damage multiplier. So for example, to calculate Bio’s potency with Raging Strikes we would multiply 240 by 1.2, which gives us 288. The table on the following page calculates the new buffed potency as well as the potency gained from using RS.

Table 2.2: DoT Potencies with Raging Strikes

Potency RS Potency RS Gain
Bio 240 288 48
Miasma 300 360 60
Bio 2 350 420 70
Shadow Flare 250 300 50

So if we use all four of these DoTs with Raging Strikes, we’ll get a total gain of 48+60+70+50=228 total additional potency gained from Raging Strikes. If we don’t include Shadow Flare, our primary three DoTs gained a total of 178 additional potency.

This additional potency also becomes much more pronounced when we use Contagion on the DoTs in the sense that the additional 15 seconds of DoTs also receives the benefit of the buffs.

You’ll see what I mean below:

Table 2.3: DoT Potencies with Raging Strikes, extended by Contagion

Potency / Tick Duration w/ Contagion # of Ticks Total Potency RS Potency RS Gain
Bio (C) 40 33 11 440 528 84
Miasma (C) 35 39 13 475 570 95
Bio 2 (C) 35 45 15 525 630 105

Note: the (C) by the skill names means those DoTs were extended by Contagion.

The total potency gained here from using Raging Strikes and Contagion together is 84+95+105=284 potency, which is almost an entire Fester! We gained 284-178=106 additional potency from using Contagion on our RS’d DoTs.

We can do the same calculations with Dreadwyrm Trance’s 10% damage increase:

Table 2.4: DoT Potencies with Dreadwyrm Trance

Potency DWT Potency DWT Gain
Bio 240 264 24
Miasma 300 330 30
Bio 2 350 385 35
Shadow Flare 250 275 25
Bio (C) 440 484 44
Miasma (C) 475 522.5 47.5
Bio 2 (C) 525 577.5 52.5

Total excluding SF:                 89

Total with Contagion excluding SF:        144

So what happens when we use both Raging Strikes and Dreadwyrm Trance at the same time? Does this mean we get a 20% + 10% = 30% total damage increase? That form of buff stacking is defined as additive stacking. FFXIV doesn’t use additive stacking though, so the answer is no.

FFXIV actually uses multiplicative stacking when it comes to buffs. What this means is that damage is first multiplied by one damage multiplier and then the resulting, new damage is again multiplied by another damage multiplier.

So basically, if you use both RS and DWT, the damage will first be buffed by RS, and then the new RS’d damage will be buffed by DWT. Let’s use Deathflare as an example.

Deathflare has 400 potency.

First we use RS. So we multiply 400 by 1.2 and we get 480.

Then we use DWT. We multiply 480 (not 400) by 1.1 and we get 528, a total gain of 128 potency.

To show how this is different from additive stacking (20% + 10% = 30% damage increase), it’s quite easy to see when you look at the math.

400 * 1.3 = 520 potency. Since FFXIV uses multiplicative stacking, we gained a total of 8 potency over additive stacking. Pretty small, but every point counts!

Anyways, let’s calculate how much potency we get when we use both RS and DWT.

Table 2.5: DoT Potencies with both Raging Strikes and Dreadwyrm Trance

Potency RS+DWT Potency RS+DWT Gain
Bio 240 316.8 76.8
Miasma 300 396 96 Sum: 284.8
Bio 2 350 462 112
Shadow Flare 250 330 80
Bio (C) 440 580.8 140.8
Miasma (C) 475 627 152 Sum (C): 460.8
Bio 2 (C) 525 693 168 Difference: 176

To clarify, Sum and Sum(C) are ignoring Shadow Flare and are listed so that we can see the potency gained by Contagion alone on the buffed DoTs. So the basic observation that you see here is that the more buffs you have on DoTs, the more powerful Contagion is.

Getting the Most Out of Your GCD

Understanding how DoTs and GCDs interact will help you understand the consequences we get from clipping our DoTs too early.

First, I would like to remind you of something I pointed out in the Clipping Your DoTs 1.0 section of the DoTs portion of the Summoner Guide:

However, the implications of clipping your DoTs also means that if you clip your DoTs enough then you’ll have spent more GCDs and MP to refresh your DoTs than you needed to.

To explain: if you keep clipping Bio at 2 seconds left, eventually the 2s that you keep clipping off the end of Bio’s duration will add up to 18s, which is another Bio. So you unnecessarily spent the extra GCD and MP to use Bio again, even if you never missed any damage ticks.

Let’s continue using that example using Bio 2 instead. We’ll make it as simple as possible and assume that you spend 3 minutes (180 seconds) using just Ruin and Bio 2 on a dummy, refreshing Bio 2 right before it falls off. Since Bio 2 is permanently on the dummy, we won’t miss any of the Bio 2 damage ticks. So our damage consists entirely of 180 seconds worth of Bio 2 ticks – 180s / 3 is 60 ticks total, and 60 ticks of 35 potency is a total of 2100 potency.

Since Bio 2 has a duration of 30 seconds, this means we’ll have used Bio 2 a total of 6 times: 30s * 6 is 180s. This means that we spent 6 GCDs hardcasting Bio 2 on our dummy.

Assuming no outside factors or buffs, as long as Bio 2 is up on the dummy for the entire 180s, it will always deal 2100 potency. This does not change. There will always be a total of 60 ticks in 180s and as long as you have Bio 2 up for all of them you will always deal 2100 potency.

However, we also have a set number of GCDs as well, which varies upon your Spell Speed, Pet Crits and Haste party buffs. For super simplicity’s sake, let’s also assume that your have a 3 second GCD (it normally starts at 2.5s and goes down from there).

If we have a 3 second GCD and we make sure to continually use the GCD, we find that over the course of 180 seconds we’ll have a total of 60 GCDs. We use 6 of these GCDs to apply Bio 2 (30s * 6GCDs = 180s). We use the remaining 54 GCDs using Ruin.

Knowing that we used the remaining 54 GCDs on Ruin helps us find the total amount of potency we dealt to the target with both Ruin and Bio 2:

Bio 2 ticked 60 times for 35 potency each for a total of 2100 potency.

→    You used 6 of your 60 GCDs hardcasting Bio 2

You used the remaining 54 GCDs on Ruin for 80 potency each, for a total of 4320

potency.

This means we dealt a collective total of 4320 + 2100 = 6420 potency using just Bio 2 and Ruin.

But what happens if we clip our DoTs? If Bio 2 is up on the dummy for the entire 180 seconds then why does it matter if clip Bio 2? We still caught all of the DoT damage ticks right? Bio 2 will still do it’s full damage?

So let’s say instead of refreshing Bio 2 right before it falls off at 30s, you decide (for whatever reason) to clip Bio 2 and refresh it every 15s instead. What this means is that even though your Bio 2 still ticked 60 times over the course of 180 seconds, you expended twice as many GCDs hardcasting Bio 2.

 

So instead of using 6 GCDs hardcasting 30s duration Bio 2’s, you used 12 GCDs hardcasting 15s duration Bio 2’s to keep it up for the entire 180 seconds. So while you didn’t lose any Bio 2 damage – you still did 2100 potency – You had 6 less GCDs to use on Ruin:

 

Bio 2 ticked 60 times for 35 potency each for a total of 2100 potency.

→    You used 12 of your 60 GCDs hardcasting Bio 2

You used the remaining 48 GCDs on Ruin for 80 potency each, for a total of 3840

potency.

Before, when we refreshed Bio 2 every 30s, we did a total of 2100 + 4320 = 6420 potency.

Now, when we refreshed Bio 2 every 15s, we did a total of 2100 + 3840 = 5940 potency.

The difference being the two is 6420 – 5940 = 480 potency lost.

Where did we lose the potency? Well that answer should be clear: we expended an extra 6 GCDs on Bio 2, which directly caused us to lose the Ruins that were previously on those GCDs. We lost 6 Ruins, so 6 * 80 potency = 480 potency lost.

What can we infer from all of this? As a general rule:

Clipping a DoT means you lose a ratio of the value of a GCD.

This ratio can be calculated by:

Ratio = Remaining DoT duration / Total DoT duration (eq.1)

The potency can be calculated by:

Net Potency = Potency Gained from Buffs – Ratio * GCD Value – varLoss (eq.2)

Potency Gained from Buffs comes into play when we begin to include our buffs. For now it’s set at 0.

varLoss is any potency loss due to external factors. For now it’s set at 0.

  1. varLoss from having to use Ruin outside of Dreadwyrm Trance instead of Ruin 3 inside of Dreadwyrm Trance is 200*1.1 = 220 – 80 = 140 potency.

So per our previous example: By clipping Bio 2 15 seconds early, we lost the value of      15s remaining / 30s total, or 1/2, of a GCD. Since we clipped Bio 2 early a total of 12 times, this comes out to a total value of:

12 * 1/2 = 6 GCDs lost.

The math also checks out at both ends of Bio 2’s duration:

No clipping at all:         0s remaining / 30s total = 0 GCDs lost.

Clipping immediately:    30s remaining / 30s total = 1 GCD lost.

Note that the value of a GCD changes for each class – it depends on what else you could’ve used that GCD on instead of clipping the DoT. In the case of Summoner, this is actually rather important.

Outside of Dreadwyrm Trance, the value of a GCD is that of Ruin, so 80 potency.

Inside of Dreadwyrm Trance, the value of a GCD is that of Ruin 3, so 200 * 1.1 = 220 potency.

What this means is that anytime you use your GCDs for anything other than Ruin 3 inside of DWT you lose 220 – 80 = 140 potency.

Author’s Note:

So I had an incredibly detailed section past this point with a ton of math regarding whether or not you should clip a DoT inside of DWT + Buffs. All of these calculations used the 3.0 value of Ruin 3, which was 120 potency. Now it’s 200 potency, which completely destroyed any and all calculations I had.

So let’s answer the question then: Is it worth hardcasting and clipping a DoT inside of DWT + Buffs?

No. Never.

Every time you don’t use Ruin 3 inside of DWT you automatically lose 140 potency, on top of whatever value of a GCD you lost from actually clipping the DoT. No buff in the game will make a 140+ potency loss worth it.

So in conclusion, don’t clip your DoTs inside of DWT. Just line up DWT with Tri-Disaster: they’re both 60s and they’re made for each other. That way there will never be a reason to use anything other than Ruin 3 inside of DWT (The only exception being is if you have to move, then Ruin 2 + Fester is fine).

Conclusion

If you read this entire document, I applaud you. You sat through like 40 pages of me talking. It’s kinda insane.

But I really appreciate that you gave me your time to read my thoughts on the 3.4 Summoner. Not many people would take the time out of their day to read through a 40 page document. I tried my best to make it as navigable as possible so that people could go directly to what they were most interested in and not have to read the entire thing.

If you felt that this was a worthwhile guide, feel free to share it with whoever you want.

If you have any questions or concerns, objections or corrections, or you just downright think I’m a shitter and want to call me bad, you can contact me on Reddit via /u/Haisquared.

If you’re on Gilgamesh, you can also reach me via /tell Hai Hai.

I would also like to thank Balana Rahl of Elysium for helping edit and update the guide.

Thank you once again for taking the time to read through my work. I hope you enjoyed it.

 

By Hai Hai of Elysium «EM» on Gilgamesh

Last Updated: October 18th, 2016

 

 

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