FFXIV Heavensward: Class Conundrum & Cactuar Conversion


DPS Decisions

While I’m putting a lot of time into leveling Tai and really loving everything about the Heavensward Dragoon, I hesitated on moving forward with Zuri. This is mostly due to all the feedback I’ve heard about Bard and how the class is borked. I was interested in leveling MCH, but I’ve heard so many awful things about it, too!

The 3.01 patch brought some changes to both classes, making Wanderer’s Minuet and Gauss Barrel instant casts with a 10% damage buff, but nerfing the damage of skills like Empyreal Arrow and Sidewinder to make up for it. The FFXIV team is really adamant about keeping support DPS damage down due to high mobility. 🙁 I’m just not sure how I feel about that, but it’s a rant that I’ll let other people make.

I spent a good chunk of time last weekend leveling Zuri’s Dragoon to 34 to unlock Blood for Blood. Yes, I’ve been a bad Bard up until now, but I’m making up for it!


During the process, I spent a good deal of time soul searching and trying to decide what I wanted to do with Zuri for Heavensward. As it is, it seems getting one class to 60 is quite a hurdle. So I knew that whatever I started with in Heavensward, I needed to stick with.

Know Thy Playstyle

I knew that some classes are just not for me – Black Mage, for example. I pondered a bit about Ninja and Monk, but I already have a level 50 Ninja on Tai, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to re-level all that.

I have a level 48 Summoner, so I even considered that for a bit, spending time reading this very excellent document on Summoner play. However, about halfway through, my mind started swimming at the thought of all the stuff Summoners need to keep up with to perform well, and I decided against it.

ffxiv_06262015_185945I want to share a secret: FFXIV is the first MMO where I’ve invested time in actually learning a rotation. Of course, this is also the first game where I played in PUGs to finish dungeons and raids. I’ve really mostly only soloed or duoed content in games before now. So, I’m trying very hard to learn how to play MMOs better. This includes pressing number keys (most the time) instead of mouse-clicking numbers for skills! Yes, I’ve had to teach myself that while playing FFXIV. XD

Even so, I’ve discovered that my playstyle leans towards classes with less flexibility in their rotations. I know that sounds funny, but sometimes reading about how rotations work just leaves my head swimming – especially mage classes! For example, Bard has just enough stability and repetition, coupled with a bit of RNG, to keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

For the longest time, I really didn’t like Dragoon at all and felt overwhelmed attempting to make sense of the class’ long, long rotation and sometimes brutal playstyle (being all up in the boss’ faces). But after some of the Dragoon changes last years, and a lot of time time spent with the class, I’ve discovered that the rotation just makes sense to me. I’ve come to understand how skills interact and I think I have a fairly good grasp on how to play the class. I’m not the best Dragoon, by far, but I feel pretty comfortable in playing Tai through Heavensward content.

That’s got me to a point where I feel like I may be able to tackle learning other melee classes (Monk and Ninja) with time and practice. However, back to the choice at hand.

Bard, I Choose You

In the end, I decided not to replicate my efforts and stuck with Bard for Zuri. The Bard community has been very vocal about what they feel is wrong with the class and the new skills. Already, this patch has made a move forward to try to help that (while nerfing us), but I still find it a bit annoying that our DPS is being so suppressed simply because we are labeled “support.”

I’ve actually spent more time leveling my gathering classes than I have my Bard with Zuri (and going broke unlocking the Master I books for crafting). The way gathering nodes are distributed in Heavensward certainly gives an advantage to players with flying mounts, so I pushed forward and unlocked flying with Zuri in the first zone. This has made gathering life a lot easier.


The Cactuar Character

It’s been in the back of my mind that I need to visit my Cactuar character (Aywren) and the folks at <GREY> more often than I have. Working so hard to unlock all my crafting classes and get ready for Heavensward the past few months has kept me from dabbling on my alt there. Since the Aywren on Cactuar was way too similar to Zuri in every way – kitty race, same coloration, Bard class – I knew I wanted to change it up some.

So I went Au’Ra.

Kitty Before, Au’Ra After

Gosh did it take forever for me to finally decide on a look for this character! I tried all sorts of combinations from the mundane to the exotic. In the end, I’m pretty pleased with how she came out, and I’m really looking forward to playing her!

Despite having 24 levels under my belt as a Bard on this character, I knew I was going to change class as well. Again, I went through all the hoops trying to determine what DPS I wanted to play. Again, I found myself setting on wanting melee DPS. But every class I investigated always told me the same thing: cross class skills require at least level 34 Dragoon to unlock Blood for Blood.

Ugh. At that rate, might just as well level Dragoon again. Soooo… that’s what I decided to do. I can always come back later and explore Monk or Ninja if I like, especially since the cross class skills will be there. But for now, I’m content in busting up the levels to catch up to the point where I can join back into the MQS and see how the level curve has changed for a character moving through it the first time.


  1. From someone who has been playing FFXIV: ARR from day one of the launch it actually makes a lot of sense to keep the DPS of Bard and Machinist relatively lower compared to the rest of the classes.
    When I started playing Bard had amazing damage, on top of all the utility they brought. This led to dungeon farm parties with only Bards because they were just that good. Mobility, TP/Mana restore and high damage. Square saw that this was a bit too much and nerfed them, and rightly so. Compared to the rest of the classes they have the easiest time to keep their DPS up while on the move without having complicated rotations, casttimes (which has changed now) and positionals like the melee have.
    Don’t get me wrong, a good Bard can still pull off good dps, it will just never be as good as classes that have more complexity and/or less utility to bring to raids.

    Also yay for another Dragoon! I feel so lonely maining one. How far are you along leveling it? I personally love the new positionals and the Dragon’s Blood buff interaction with the rest of the new skillset.

    1. My main on Midgardsormr is level 58 Dragoon. Really enjoying Heavensward Dragoon – the new skills add a level of intensity to the rotation that’s challenging without being too frustrating. 🙂

      I do understand why they keep the Bards and Machinist DPS lower – it makes sense that mobility gives them an edge over less mobile DPS classes, and that it’s not fair they have mobility + DPS unhindered. I’ve played Bard for quite a while and accepted that in 2.0.

      The whole debate we’re seeing now is that due to new skills, mobility is being hindered until these classes play more like a caster, but still lack the substantial DPS boosts the casters have (and we lose our auto attack DPS). I do realize that the song is now an instant-cast stance (after the patch), though you can’t toggle it on and off at whim still, and that it’s situational and optional (though new skills are gated behind the stance).

      However, the Bards and Machinists provided parse numbers for feedback showing significantly lower DPS than other classes – sometimes even less than the tanks with their new damage skills. So, the team chose to make tweaks in response to that in this new patch. They did increase the overall DPS while in the stance by 10%… but then nerfed the potency of the rest of the skills for the sake of balance… when the class was already so far behind other classes. When I read that, I sadly laughed. 🙁

      They are so bent on keeping ranged mobile classes in balance they don’t cut any slack it seems. I’ll still continue playing Bard, but until I actually sit down with all the skills at a higher level (only level 53 right now), I won’t know if it’ll be a fun play style… or if my class will just be a hindrance to my group.

  2. If you’ve been a bad Bard, I’ve been a terrible Bard–I haven’t even a single level of Lancer. 😀

    For me, I always felt that part of the power of being a Bard was that I could keep up a steady stream of arrows even in the midst of dodging crazy boss AOE’s and running back and forth–so while my DPS might never reach that of a Dragoon or a Monk, I could make up for it somewhat when those classes would have to be outside of their effective range or otherwise unable to attack.

    So when I saw Wanderer’s Minuet… I was actually kind of excited. I thought, “Hey! Here’s an interesting tactical decision! Do I act like a Black Mage to get DPS close to that of other classes, or keep mobile to keep up my constant arrow barrage when those other classes would struggle to attack?” Except… even with The Wanderer’s Minuet, you still *don’t* get up to the kind of DPS other classes can put out. So yeah, it’s annoying.

    I do hope they eventually settle on something like what I described, though–I think The Wanderer’s Minuet is a good opportunity to give Bards a way to deal near-equivalent damage while still having enough of a trade-off that you don’t just do it all the time.

    It was still satisfying to pop all of my buffs and take out 40% of an open-world mob’s health with a single Empyreal Arrow, though.

    1. I agree. When I saw the original description of WM, I thought it was a neat idea. HOWEVER, that’s when I thought giving up mobility meant doing somewhat equivalent DPS to other classes.

      So far, that still isn’t the case, not even with the slight buff/nerf of the new patch. It just barely provides enough to outdamage normal non-WM play now. I was rather disappointed in this, and I think that’s why there’s a lot of backlash.

      If Bards felt that being in WM was a fair DPS trade-off for loss of mobility, you wouldn’t see the kind of protesting you do now. I don’t need to do Dragoon-tier damage. I just want to feel like I’m not holding back my group because any other DPS class would have been a better use of a group slot. 🙁

      1. I’ll have to play around with the new patch some and see how it feels. I really wish I had a way to total and compare DPS at times. 😀

  3. BRD’s actually in a pretty awesome place, post patch. All the reports I’m hearing put us up there with BLM. Heck, even at 59, I’m seeing much better numbers now than I was before 3.01 dropped. The 10% boost to Minuet more than made up for the loss of potency on Empyreal Arrow(I don’t have Sidewinder yet).

    1. Thanks, Kett. I really, really need to hear positive things about Bard right now. I just see so much negativity that I’m still double guessing my choice to stick with Bard. Which makes me sad.

  4. Ohh, nice Golden Sun-god girl! 😛

    I have to admit, though, that I was terribly disappointed by the Au’Ra. When I first heard about them I was excited, and resolved to wait for Heavensward so I could main one. But then I saw the models…I’d envisioned a draconic version of Charr, something gracefully beastly and scaly, not a FF-themed Draenei or scaled/horned cat-girl. Bah, I say!

    Try not to worry too much about the Bard’s performance, unless it gets in the way of your ability to play the game. I am sure that Squeenix won’t let them fall too far behind, so that you become a liability to a group. Just continue to practice with it and you’ll do fine.

    I sympathise with the rotation concerns too! In WoW I liked to take passive talents over yet another button to push, because trying to juggle cooldowns on top of regular rotation abilities became too stressful. I inevitably forget about one or more, or mistime it so it’s effectively wasted, and then I feel bad. So I preferred the passive boosts, which although being weaker overall, at least I couldn’t screw them up or forget about them.

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