A couple weeks ago we had the opportunity to get our hands-on with Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood!
In this article, we’ll examine the changes and additions coming to Casters!
Make sure to also check out our other role analysis articles:
Please note, all tooltips shown are from a development build and are subject to change before final release.
Credit for the tooltips go to: Avalonstar, Reseph, Mr Happy, Mizzteq and Gamer Escape
Now that there are three casters it didn’t make much sense for Black Mage to keep Swiftcast to themselves so that is a no-brainer for a cross role ability. But, surprisingly Caster DPS received some of the more surprising and unique options in Stormblood. Addle is an old ability with a new name. It is a 120-second cooldown that lowers the Intelligence and Mind of an enemy by 15% for 10 seconds. So… Virus. But unlike Virus, it does not apply an immunity to its effect, so it could potentially be cast back to back by each caster in a party, which is pretty great. Next at level 12 is the new ability Break. Break is a spell with 50 potency that adds a 40% heavy for 20 seconds. Weirdly, Break has a normal cast time, but costs no MP, and the duration is pretty long. The next shared ability is also a new spell, and an interesting one at that. At level 16 casters get Drain, a spell with 80 potency that absorbs 100% of that damage dealt as HP. 80 potency is pretty low, but since it has no cooldown, it can potentially be cast over and over again.
Next up is Diversion at level 20, which is the replacement for Quelling Strikes’ enmity reduction. It has a 120-second cooldown and lasts for 12 seconds, and just like Quelling Strikes it only effects the abilities cast after using it, and does not reduce your current enmity. The next ability, Lucid Dreaming, is quite dreamy indeed. This is an ability with a 120 second cooldown that reduces your current enmity by half, but the more important part is the 21 second duration, 80 potency refresh effect that it has. Casters, regenerating their own MP? Madness! This is a pretty amazing inclusion and really highlights the spreading of utility to more roles. At level 32, Casters receive the ubiquitous Swiftcast, completely unchanged from how it works now, awesome.
Perhaps the most interesting new ability is Mana Shift. This is an ability, gained at level 36, that transfers 20% of the caster’s MP to another party member. The possibilities here are pretty amazing. From helping the healers out to getting around Dark Knights refresh restriction during Darkside usage, to helping to fuel Paladin’s new shiny abilities. Black Mages in particular could end up using this ability very often as they functionally have infinite MP. The next new ability at level 40 is an old one, Apocatastasis. Now each caster has access to the 150 second cooldown that reduces a party members magic vulnerability by 20% for 10 seconds. More mitigation in more hands is always a great thing.
At level 44 casters have the option to use a powered up new version of Surecast. It retains the ability to cast one spell without interruption, however now it also nullifies sleep, stun, knockback and draw-in effects for up to 10 seconds. Wow, welcome to ignoring all of that annoying crap every 30 seconds. Lastly casters get a new ability called Erase. This 90 second cooldown removes a single DoT from a party member other than the caster. This is a strange ability to say the least. Sure, it can definitely help in some situations, but it will depend on what effects it can nullify.
This is a great collection of old and new utility abilities. Swiftcast, Surecast, and Lucid Dreaming will probably be the usual suspects I love the idea of Mana Shift, it is just enough to help in emergency situations and 20% won’t cripple any of the casting Jobs, least of all Black Mage. Break is very situational but we’ve needed heavy effects for kiting before! Erase… Well, maybe it’ll be useful, but if so, that fight is going to be annoying.
RDM – Speed, glorious speed
Red Mage, the traditional Final Fantasy “jack of all trades, master of none”, comes to FFXIV with familiar style and grace, but a new-found speed. At first level RDM gains a trait called Dualcast. This allows them to cast any spell with a cast time instantly after previously casting a spell with a cast time allowing them to cram two spells in one normal GCD time period. The results of which are a very fun and rhythmic flow, and some interesting rotational complexity.
Red Mage has access to both black and white magic in the form of familiar spells with a new prefix ‘Ver’. Veraero and Verthunder are twin 5 second cast time 300 potency attacks that raise white and black mana respectively, by 11. 5 Seconds is a heck of a long time to be casting, but here is where we find the first interaction of dualcast on the rotation. Jolt and Jolt II are 2 second cast spells that raise black and white mana by 3. By casting a quick Jolt, then casting Veraero or Verthunder you will cast both spells within a GCD, using Jolt in this way seems to be the intended coupling. Two other spells Verstone and Verfire, both 2 second casts and both raising their respective mana by 9 are only available when you proc Verstone/Verfire ready after casting Veraero/Verthunder. This is how we find the normal rotation for RDM, cycling through a fast cast spell to a longer one that is instantly cast.
Red Mage is all about balance. Their Job Gauge tracks how much Black or White mana you have gained from casting the respective types of magic. The trick here is that this gauge directly powers your melee abilities, and until you have enough of both, you are stuck with lesser versions of each. The three melee weaponskills; Riposte, Zwerchhau, and Redoublement combine for a potency of 510, however if you have at least 80 of both mana you will instead do the “Enchanted” version of each weaponskill, which combine for (tent) 930 potency, nearly doubling the power. Because your melee abilities are fueled by mana you will need to build using your spell rotation before laying down the hurt.
The last portion of the rotation concerns RDM’s two nukes Verflare and Verholy. They can only be used after casting Enchanted Redoublement. Their place in the main rotation is as the end cap after building mana and striking in melee range, you will burst with one of these two 550 potency spells. Once you do, however, you will be imbalanced as whichever you used will add 21 to its type of mana. With your rotation reset, you will have to deal with that imbalance as you start again.
Red Mage brings some group synergy with Embolden a 20% magic damage self-buff with a 10% physical damage buff to all those around the RDM though, both of these effects decay by a fifth every 4 seconds. At first, it seems weird that RDM can only buff half of its own damage, however the tooltips for each melee skill say that they deal “Unaspected” damage and are likely treated as magic! Red Mage also brings utility in the fact that it can cure with the same potency as Summoner’s Physic with Vercure and even raise with Verraise.
It seems like Red Mage will be an easy swap in for Summoner in statics that had one. The only suspect area of its kit is the AoE which traditionally is the purview of the caster slot. They have Scatter, a fast casting 100 potency spell that gains 3 black and white mana normally, and is enhanced to 8 of both due to a proc called Enhanced Scatter. Moulinet is their AoE weaponskill that deals 60 potency unless you have more than 30 of both mana, in which case it is upgraded to Enchanted Moulinet, the potency of which, we are not sure of yet. Lastly, they gain a 300 potency off-GCD spell called Contre Sixte, although it has a hefty 45 second cooldown. All this together will definitely put Red Mage ahead of most Melee in AoE damage, but it may fall slightly short versus the other Caster options. We’ll have to see the numbers in practice. Though if things pan out, we’ll be able to remove that “Master of None” part of their description.
BLM – Less juggling, more explosions
Black Mage, like its fellow caster Summoner, was left out in the colds of Coerthas for Heavensward. The prevalent meta composition eschewed casters for Ranged DPS with more synergistic group buffs. Black Mage also had a huge jump in complexity with the introduction of Enochian. With all of the movement and invulnerability phases in harder content, a giant rift was created between average Black mages, and those that could manage it all. In order to fix this, Stormblood adds some mobility options, including an awesome cooldown, and a fun teleportation spell, while further emphasizing the Black Mage’s deepening mastery of the darker side of magic.
Let’s talk about that Job UI first. Black Mage has the busiest UI however it will be easy for long time Black Mages to understand after watching it in action. First off, there are Red and Blue pips for your stacks of Astral Fire and Umbral Ice around the center ring. On the right side is a graphic that ticks down according to your Enochian timer, which I will explain later. And at the bottom are your current Umbral Hearts. Umbral Hearts are obtained by casting Blizzard IV. These hearts reduce the cost of your next spell that is affected by Astral Fire to their normal MP cost. This gives you so many more casts of Fire IV in the long run, as they all are reduced to their base cost of 1200 MP. Flare also benefits from Umbral Hearts. A trait after level 60 allows you to use all of your remaining hearts to decrease Flare’s cost by 2/3rds so it will only take a third of your remaining mana when you cast it.
The developers mentioned that they wanted to change Enochian to help bridge the gap between skilled and lesser skilled players. So what happened? Enochian is now a 5% magic damage buff that is maintained by keeping either Astral Fire, or Umbral Ice up. In fact, you can only initiate Enochian while already under those effects. This means that as long as you don’t drop either buff you will always have Enochian’s buff. Now, for those with more skill, keeping Enochian up for 30 seconds grants a buff called Polyglot which allows you to cast a new spell. Foul is an AoE spell shown in the Job Ability trailer, that delivers a 650-potency attack to one enemy and then 10% less for each other enemy affected until it drops to 325 potency to everything after the fifth target.
Black Mage also receives new cooldowns and more new spells. The first of which is Between the Lines, a spell like Aetherial Manipulation that teleports the caster to their ley lines on a 3 second cooldown. This will have a skilled Black Mage zipping around, Aetherial Manipulating to their party members for mechanics and quickly returning to ley lines for continued exploding.
Next, Black Mage gets an AoE DoT in the form of Thunder IV, which replaces Thunder II which has been made an AoE as well. Thunder IV is 50 potency, and leaves a 30 potency DoT on every enemy hit for 18 seconds and yes, it does proc thundercloud. Up next is the 90 second cooldown Triplecast which makes the next three casts have no cast time as long as you cast all three within its duration of 15 seconds. This is perhaps the most exciting new ability as it will help immensely with movement. Being able to continue up to 3 casts of your rotation while navigating hazards will be invaluable. Lastly, I want to mention that Manawall and Manaward have been combined into the new Manaward spell. Manaward now negates damage up to 30% of the caster’s maximum HP. Black Mages have had their kit streamlined and the developers have answered most of the player’s concerns. Go forth and explode!
SMN – Bahamut – Elder Primal – Part time employee
Even though it was a victim of the Caster purge from the prevalent meta compositions in Heavensward, Summoner was still pretty utilized in the speed-running community. Their DoTs and awesome AoE burst gave them the advantage on a few floors of Alexander. Right now, Summoner is in a pretty good spot. So, what could they gain in Stormblood? Well, there is the problem of the egi. The dev team has said that adding new ones would probably result in them being under, or over utilized, as it is hard to give options without a clear winner. So, they got creative. Summoners can look forward to a consolidation of DoTs, a new party buff, and the apparent answer to our egi problems in a big, big way.
Summoners, like all Jobs, now have a couple of unique Job UI elements. First is the on-screen representation of their Aetherflow stacks, which when used double as a representation of your Aethertrail stacks as well. Once you enter Dreadwyrm Trance, a timer appears on screen, and stays through to a second use of Dreadwyrm Trance after which, it starts to glow. The reason for this is Summoner’s new second phase of channeling Bahamut.
After each trance, the Summoner gains a stack of Bahamut Aether. Once they gain two stacks of Bahamut Aether, the Summoner is able to use the new Summon Bahamut ability. This replaces your current pet with Demi-Bahamut for 20 seconds. During this time, Demi-Bahamut executes an action named Shockwave each time the Summoner uses an action. The second new ability that is available only while Demi-Bahamut is summoned is Enkindle Bahamut. As most Summoners know, Enkindle orders your current pet to use its unique and usually high potency attack. Demi-Bahamut uses Ahk Morn, that’s right, the real deal although on a 13 second cooldown. This is the big-ticket change, and is pretty awesome, but it is a small part of the new Summoner.
It was said in the Live letter that now most multi-tiered abilities that do the same thing will be condensed into one high level spell eventually. As Summoners main DoTs were Bio, Miasma and Bio II, you can probably sense what is coming. Now Summoners have two DoTs, Bio III and Miasma III. With this change, Fester has also been adjusted by lowering its potency to 200 with both DoTs applied. Tri-Disaster now inflicts a target with the highest available Bio and Miasma, and boosts the potency of all Ruin spells for 15 seconds. Also of note is that entering Dreadwyrm Trance resets the cooldown of Tri-Disaster which reinforces it’s use upon entering the trance. Now, I know the developers just collapsed most of the other spells, but Ruin I, II, and III while similar have different uses so they will all be used at max level, and there’s more!
Ruin IV has been added as a new spell. This spell can only be cast as a result of a 15% proc after your pet uses a spell or weaponskill. This Ruin Mastery proc also reduces the recast of your normal pets enkindle by 10 seconds each time it occurs thanks to the level 68 trait, Enhanced Enkindle.
Speaking of the less awesome non-Bahamut pets, there have been a few adjustments. One is a new Summoner spell called Aetherpact which orders your pet to use Devotion on a 90 second cooldown. Devotion, the pet ability, increases the potency of all attack and healing magic for all party members within a 30-yalm radius by 5%. It also reduces the damage taken by those affected by 5%. What’s this? A party buff for a caster?! Awesome. It doesn’t replace Foe’s Requiem, but it is a nice extra to make Summoners more desirable. The most impactful change for pets is the removal of Contagion. Garuda now has the ability, (Needs tooltip) which buffs the Summoner’s damage on the target by 5% for 15 seconds. Will this finally give more merit to choosing Ifrit over Garuda? Does the loss of Contagion mean anything now that Tri-Disaster will always be available for every Dreadwyrm Trance, and the DoTs last at least 24 seconds now? Summoner is one of the most changed Jobs, and there are still a lot of questions, but screw it, we get Bahamut!