Wisdom of Nym: The numbers game in Final Fantasy XIV

It’s not really hard to figure out the best stats for melding in order to do the maximum damage in Final Fantasy XIV. You have, ultimately, only a few real options, and with the removal of Accuracy as an option, none of them is actually going to make or break important points. The problem is that asking “what can I meld to do maximum damage” is perhaps not always the right question to ask.

The matter of stat weights and best-in-slot gear has already been attracting ferocious debate in various parts of the community, and you know the debate has gotten to a fever pitch when Yoshida actually addresses one of the stupider new customs in a live letter. (That would be tanks wearing 270 STR accessories, for the record.) So I think it’s well past the point to talk about the issue of tank damage, tank scaling, and numbers in general. They may not carry the allure of story sequences, but they’re still important.

There's nothing you can meld to make life as a MCH feel less... well, MCH.First and foremost, it’s important to note that there is one group of players who should definitely be concerned about pushing to the absolute limits: progression raiders aiming for world and server firsts. Of course, that proves to be such a vanishingly small percentage of players that it’s almost not worth noting in the first place, but those guys should totally care about it because they fully intend to clear the Savage Deltascape within two weeks at most. The goal with that group is pushing performance.

For the average player, that should not be the goal. If you expect to have a couple of Creation tomestone pieces before taking on Savage, then your goal is not pushing performance; it’s minimizing headaches. And that’s a very different question than “what deals the most damage.”

One of the big elements of gameplay that FFXIV emphasizes is choice in terms of actual gameplay. You have a rather more limited pool of customization options here than you do in, say, the obvious point of comparison; what you do have is more moment-to-moment choice going on. That’s part of what makes for fun situations. As a tank, for example, you don’t just do AoE damage by rotating through your normal tank rotation, and I constantly find myself asking when the right time comes around to use certain things. Is it worth it to use Holy Spirit on my main target here and risk DPS focusing on something else? Should I trust the healer and mechanics here that I can swap to a more damaging stance? Will I need more juice in my Beast Gauge before a phase transition?

Every time I see talk about the “threat problems” tanks have in dungeons, I find myself coming back to this. As someone who is hard at work leveling one tank job and having capped another, I haven’t had any threat problems, and I’m using the proper accessories for my job and level. What this really means is “tanks in DPS stance focusing on doing big damage can’t hold threat doing that any longer,” which is technically a problem, but an entirely self-selected one. Stop turning Grit off and play smarter; if you didn’t need to manage threat, it wouldn’t exist in the game at all.

This is also where that “minimizing headaches” things comes into play. If you’re in a duty roulette with 270 STR accessories equipped, you are officially a bad tank. I don’t care what achievements you have; I care that you’ve decided your damage and playstyle trumps the safety of everyone else in your party. Your goal with strangers should not be to make this run go as fast as possible; it should be to make the run as easy as possible for the entire team.

Some people, I think, are just not going to see this. They look at Tenacity and see that it doesn’t provide enough of a DPS increase compared to, say, Direct Hit. And that’s true; 200 Tenacity (five meld spots) ups your damage by 1%, while 200 Direct Hit will give you a 5% greater chance of a direct hit! That’s way more damage.

Do not, however, meld Tenacity on non-tanks. Please.Except that Tenacity boost also means another 1% damage reduction along the way, and when dealing with total strangers that might be much more valuable. You might have a new healer and a DPS who insists on never dodging anything, and for that group your slightly greater chance of doing damage is much less valuable than making sure you’re harder to kill and thus less of a headache for the healer. One could argue that, point-for-point, Tenacity is giving you much more; a hypothetical tank set with all Tenacity melds will only give you a moderate increase in your overall damage, but it’ll also lower all of the damage you take, which is a bit more useful all around than a slight damage bump.

Of course, that’s assuming you can somehow meld nothing but Battledance VI onto an entire tanking set, which seems… unlikely, to say the least. Downright inadvisable when you consider how strongly Strength scales on the right side, too, but that’s part of the point.

The funny thing is that I would expect the community, as a whole, to have a better memory about this sort of thing. Remember when people were taking to the forums, loudly, to declare that White Mage was dead on arrival in Stormblood? How the job was clearly going to be awful and would wind up being the worst healer in the game once again? I wrote a whole article about it and everything, and people were quick to crop up to tell me how wrong I was.

The saying “history will vindicate me” is one with pretty awful origins, and I don’t like throwing around cliches in the hopes that they’ll form astute observation. But here we are, and it turns out that White Mage is in a spectacular place. It’s got issues, as every job does, but on a whole it’s easily one of the best healers running right now because of how nicely it balances damage and healing output, and it’s doing far better than Scholar. Yes, it’s a category with three entries so comparisons are stark, but you won’t hear anyone kvetching about the job any longer.

The danger in having SCH friends is that I hear about the job's issues a lot. And it has a bunch of them.

If you’re worried about tank threat scaling in the future, you can rest fairly assured that the designers are also thinking about that and looking to what can be done with it in the future. And if you’re worried about the optimal melds for every job, the reality is that even the optimal melds might not actually be optimal. You can make a list of what melds provide the most point-for-point damage, but not which melds provide the best party support or the best guideposts to hit.

Use your best judgement with an understanding of what the various stats do, while keeping in mind that Direct Hit is nicely powerful and can always be melded to tank or healing gear to buff your numbers. You won’t be making world firsts, but you weren’t going to be making those anyhow.

Feedback, like always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com; I elected not to add my own melding plans in here, but you can feel free to request it if that interests you. Next week, I’m going to talk about where we can possibly go from here in the wake of the 4.0 MSQ, since we’ve got a while before that continues and I like to make sure my predictions have space to be wholly speculative.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
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12 Comments on "Wisdom of Nym: The numbers game in Final Fantasy XIV"

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Josh

This issue seems to come up in a lot of MMOs, especially in GW2.
People watch people at the bleeding end of progression as an example of how to gear and handle fights because these people are the best and therefore should know what’s best, right?
Except people fail to realize that what is best in an organized, end game group is not what’s best in most other situations.
What’s worse is that when people take this “pro” perspective to gear and strategy, they often ignore the reality of a pug situation and just end up blaming others for the failure because if everyone else had been playing like pros, then everything would have gone fine (or so they believe).
MMOs will always be full of players of all sorts of backgrounds, skills, opinions, perspectives, etc. and trying to deny that will always end up in failure.

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bobfish

I think we’re just going to end up with the same imbalance we had in HW with regards to the tanks. At the moment they are all fairly even on DPS, but the PLD has slightly better mitigation and much better utility.

Now they are buffing DPS for WAR and DRK, which means once content becomes farmable, the tanks with better DPS are going to be at the top of the picking order again, as DPS = speed.

What they should be doing is fixing the utility and mitigation of WAR and DRK, or giving them equivalents, and keeping the three tanks on similar DPS. So when farming happens, the PLD doesn’t end up last on the list again.

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Rumm

They’re nerfing PLD dps at the same time that they’re buffing the other 2. PLD was good for a few weeks before Savage raid, and now I bet we’ll be back to the bench. WAR has better MT potential with shorter mid-range CDs, and DRK will be the highest DPS for OT.

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mike

The numbers game. I like the title because at the end of the day that is the fate of all MMOs.

It represents a core problem, at some point people decided to stop playing the game and aim for the optimal rotation, stats, and even playing a class they might not enjoy over another, all for the sake of clearing the content faster.

Do not get me wrong, if that’s how you want to play by all means go for it. The issue is that its being forced on MMO communities by it’s own player bases. Go into a dungeon and people are secretly parsing you, judging you, telling you, “hey you should be doing it this way.”

The question then lies who is at fault? Gamers or Designer?
Is it the designers for making the content to hard? FINAL FANTASY XIV is a prime example. The hard mode content of the game aka Savage, players need to squeeze every last ounce of DPS to come close to succeeding creating an elitist attitude. Pressuring tanks, dps, and healers to all gear for optimal dps specifications, and to have near perfect rotations with little human error on top of instance mechanics.

Is it the gamers? Min/maxing is to achieve best in slot stats and optimal rotation for the class you are playing. The is nothing wrong with that, but a large chunk of the player base doesn’t have time for that or wants to just play the game. When a community starts dictating that it has to be played one one or no way that leads to no where good. Since this article is about FINAL FANTASY XIV I’ll stay with examples there. Currently the Samurai and Red Mage are excelling at damage and red mage in particular damage and utility over the other classes, to where people are only taking them into groups rather than the other 9 dps classes.

So I don’t do on forever, tl;dr. The numbers game is hurting MMOs.

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Wolfyseyes

This has been a non-issue for me since I started taking up tanking jobs in XIV purely because I always liked being the person that won by attrition rather than the one who burned things the fastest. I also pretty much never stance danced while mainlining DRK and focused purely on keeping myself in as much HP as possible, so maybe that also means I’m A Bad Tank And Should Feel Bad.

That said, minimizing headaches is absolutely why I dropped the tanking job entirely. I got exhausted of being the glue for a bundle of impatient randoms who would literally get annoyed at me when I didn’t draw entire floors into my pulls. It’s why I refuse to PUG any of the new raids coming down the pipe.

It’s, frankly, why I’m not sure the sub is worth it anymore.

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mike

As tank you are captain. You decide how fast the boat goes. DPS are passengers, while important you can always sell more tickets. Healers are crew, while important you can always hire more crew. lol

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jim

Tbf, some of the novel builds can be real fun. I used to play GW2 a long time ago and I remember there used to be a fad where people were making necro tanks that drained life so fast that they made pretty good tanks with excellent crowd control and damage. Ultimately, most other traditional tanks would be better as the necro tank was really delicate if your draining stopped for whatever reason, but I never had so much fun trying to control something so chaotic and get results. In that sense, it can be fun to build a sort of glass cannon build or something like that, even if it might piss off a few random pubbies on a bad night.

That being said, though, you’re still spot on. Even with my necro-tank, it was all just about the fun of getting my build to work against my peers. If I were actually trying to trick out the best gear for him and doing it because the meta was the best or whatever, I wouldn’t have found it nearly as fun.

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Nathan Aldana

I think the problem is people want complexity that isnt there while ignoring or dismissing complexity that is there Case in point, dark knight requires at least some effective managing of tank cooldowns and keeping track of incoming versus outgoing mana, but people are so obsessed with eking out every spare dps by leaving grit as often as possible or waxing poetic about the old mp drain system that they seem to dismiss or automagically hate the new stuff. And if you dare suggest that some tank players just want to tank, they throw a fit over how bad you are.

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Nathan Aldana

god it drives me batty how many people insist that if you arent constantly in dps stance as a warrior you;re warrioring wrong, then proceed to die when they try to pull 3 packs at once in bardams mettle. Shit, I cleared susano ex with two tanks who stayed in tank stance, we did fine.

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Leviathonlx

The DPS tank thing just needs to die. Though I get it and the healer DPS thing come from the fact that damage is dealt with differently than in games like WoW where a healer needs to always heal or the tank will die.

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Krenian Kandos

Bang on as always, Eliot. People focus too much on what the top 1-2% do and don’t go on a day to day basis. And then people complain about others who are ‘baddies’ or ‘scrubs’ because they focus on defensive stats instead of the offensive way.

People need to stop focusing on what the 1-2% do. Focus on more what the general populace does and see what is best in the situation that calls for. For myself, a tank since ARR, I’m going the Det/Tenacity route at the beginning because, simply put, it is more of a defensive benefit for my party for me not to get squished. It allows healers that breath of fresh air.

Also, I always was one of those people who never got the idea of getting out of tank stance to do more damage to kill stuff dead. If your healer is struggling or your DD isn’t up there, reducing the incoming damage by 15% all the time will save you and your healer a LOT more headaches than dropping said tank stance, and expecting your healer only to heal you and survive.

Gotta remember folks: there is a synergy between Tanks, Healers and DDs. If the DD isn’t great, the Healer has to keep you up longer, which means you’re at bigger risk of dying. As such, do yourself a favor and stop giving your healers a bigger heart attack than usual.

You’re there to tank. Let the DD worry about DPSing. And if the Healer can, they will DPS if you are sturdy enough to survive the pull without their constant attention.

Sadly, this has become more of a DPS race than a mitigation race lately. I have to wonder if mechanics play a role in here (IE enrage). We seem to see a lot of developers put an enrage timer which kills you outright no matter what, which means it becomes a DPS race which then makes tanks sacrifice hits to the bare minimum needed in order to kill it. And thus stems the idea behind DPSing as a tank as well.

Mechanics do weight themselves in that manner. Food for thought.

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Wolfyseyes

I’ve always been of the mind to never EVER drop tank stance while MT because, knowing my luck, that stance swap would be the moment something goes horribly wrong and I can’t keep things sealed up.

And I have to agree, the amount of enrage timers and the stupidly deep HP pools do kind of lead one to thinking that “moar deeps” is a sound strategy.

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