Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV and the ongoing balance pass, part two


So the good news to be noted is that at this point, we know there’s going to be some job adjustments with the¬†Final Fantasy XIV 6.08 patch that’s launching tomorrow. The slightly less good news is that this is just purely numerical, so the adjustments might well help out some jobs that are lagging behind in a pure number race (Paladin, Machinist) but not so much with jobs that are having actual mechanical issues. Then again, those can expect some love in patch 6.1, so… well, we’ll just see what happens next, I guess.

Regardless, I wrote the previous Wisdom of Nym expecting to cover everything in one column, but then it wound up being too long and only covered two of the game’s three major roles. So now I’m going to get the rest of the balance issues sorted out in this column. You know, what you could have predicted from the end of the last column. These things are not always particularly vague.


Melee DPS: Alas, poor Dragoon

So the good news is that Reaper is definitely good. The less good news is that… gosh, Dragoon and Monk and Ninja are in a weird place right now, huh? Not necessarily a terrible place or anything; Ninja might have some weirdness in its overall rotation, but it still has its basic niche as being a Trick Attack dispenser whether it wants that or not. But it works, overall. It hasn’t had to really sacrifice its identity.

Monk and Dragoon, though…

First and foremost, I think it’s only fair to state that Monk has gone from a job that I never particularly liked to one I actively think is a blessed mess and a half with its latest revision. I don’t think it’s non-functional, but it certainly doesn’t seem to flow particularly well compared to its prior incarnation, and while I understand the design goal was to give it fewer dead-end abilities no one ever wanted to use, all that’s really changed now is which abilities are useless and basically irrelevant to its rotation. It doesn’t feel comfortable; let’s leave it at that.

Dragoon, though, really took an L to make Reaper look better. It has a decent flow, but it doesn’t feel comfortable or satisfying in terms of numbers. It also suffers from the simple reality that some of its buffs are still kind of awkward to use, and while the core rotation is solid, it’s still basically the same rotation that it’s had for ages now. The loss of buff maintenance is a good thing, but it does leave the job feeling a little more hollow.

Fortunately, I think Dragoon is a job that can mostly be patched up with some number buffs. Monk… is a bit more messy. Numbers might be enough on paper, but it feels kind of awkward to play, and that might require a bigger set of tweaks to really make it work quite right. Monk and Ninja both make me long for the satisfying flow of Reaper, which is not a great thing to say about any job. (Except for Reaper, I suppose. It does flow nicely.)

I guess Samurai could use some higher numbers, too? Samurai seems mostly fine. (Yes, I expect Samurai players to come in and tell me that it’s not fine.)

I like being a WHM, though.

Healers: Pure healers are kind of a mess right now

So everyone was ready to write the epitaphs for Scholar after the ability preview went live, and lo and behold, everyone agrees now that Scholar is actually solid and useful and works really well, including its ability everyone mocked before finding out that it had a lot going for it. This is why I keep reminding people to not take everything as a gospel from preview videos, and why it keeps happening anyhow. Sigh.

Anyway, the real mess is happening over with White Mage and Astrologian, but both for very different reasons.

Astrologian had two major changes that made it generally feel worse to play. The first is that you can no longer use Lesser Arcana to “eat” a card you don’t want to use for a generic buff; the second is that Lesser Arcana is now a totally separate system. Both have the same net effect. It’s another random system based on nothing, and the randomness already inherent in Astrologian’s card draws and a self-buff that relies on getting three card draws when you can’t alter them is honestly just kind of a crappy system. It’s not fun.

Then again, at least Astrologian doesn’t have the problems of White Mage, which I would discuss with you except that I’ve run out of MP and cannot write the rest of this sente

I’m not sure how White Mage’s MP management and recovery got so bad, or rather, I am sure about it, but every time I think about it I just feel the urge to sigh. Yes, White Mage has traditionally had the benefit of having plenty of MP. This made sense because White Mage was easily the healing job with the fewest inherent tools to recover it. This made it rather simple, especially with how Thin Air worked. Now, though… now White Mages are struggling to cast their spells at all, especially in later content, and the counterbalance seems to be that the job has a lot of spells with no cost.

The problem is that most of those spells are themselves cooldowns or otherwise not something you can necessarily count on, which means that we circle right back around to having some major issues with MP management. Fortunately, I think this is something that can be fixed with some number tweaks here and there. Whether or not the designers actually want to is another issue. Maybe they want White Mage to be balanced by MP issues at this point, which seems like a really bad idea to me, but then, it’s not my call to make.

Sage and Scholar, meanwhile, are doing just fine with barriers. Sometimes they even break into songs.

Void where prohibited.

Magical DPS: I guess Summoner is simple now

Uh… yeah, everything here seems fine. Black Mage offers the least utility and the most damage, Summoner summons stuff and sits in the middle of utility and damage, Red Mage does the most supportive stuff but has the lowest damage to compensate. I guess the biggest issue is that now Red Mage has little reason to move out of melee range? But it can and that’s the important part. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have to backflip to your doom any longer.

Spoiler warning: No one ever found that fun.

Also, Summoner is kind of simple now and has very few buttons to hit. This seems like a minor issue to me, since it’s more that the job has very few buttons to hit at once; there’s a distinct character to each of the three summons, you want to time Ifrit and what you use that summon for carefully because of simple timing, and the job flows well. But if you got used to the complexity, I guess I understand it. Still doing fine in damage, though.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I want to talk a little bit about the supposed big news coming at the end of February and what it could mean, both good and bad.

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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