FFXIV: Bard Woes & Cactuar Progress


Pretty much ever since Heavensward released, I’ve been in a state of uncertainty with my Bard, Zuri. Though she’s supposed to be my main character, I’ve put much more time and effort into leveling and gearing Tai, who is now at end game running Expert Roulettes and upping his ilvl.

During all this, I’ve left poor Zuri on the curve while piddling around with leveling gathering classes. This week, I dinged level 55 miner and botanist, and I knew there would come a time soon when the gated content was going to prevent me from moving on even in daily gather turn-ins. Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but I still felt like I needed to just pick something and roll with it to at least unlock the Churning Mists.

I started leveling Ninja for a while, but having to push that up from a scratch level nothing to 50 is a bit more of a time sink than I want to indulge in right now. So, I buckled down and decided to push forward with Bard, seeing I was partway through the Dravanian Forelands. I was also only level 53, so I had not yet earned Empyreal Arrow to see how it felt to play in Wanderer’s Minuet.

So, I quested on through, beat up Ravana, and dinged 54 for Empyreal Arrow. By that time, I really wanted to unlock flying in the Forelands, so I pushed through the main scenario quests and jumped into the Sohm Al dungeon. It didn’t help that the party was a bit messy in composition, but my first dungeon run using WM with Empyreal Arrow left me feeling not just slow… but rather ineffective as a DPS.

I know the playstyles are very different, but compared to my dragoon, I couldn’t feel any of the damage I was doing, aside from the occasional buffed triple Emp Arrow spike. With dragoon, I’m bringing it fast and furious and I feel it. With bard, I’m more of a casual string-puller, almost as slow as casters. I’m also starting to understand why people are complaining about the lack of flow in the bard rotation.

I’m just not sure how I feel about it, still. I read plenty of “just keep playing and you get used to it” posts. I may just put up with it to complete content on easy mode (it’s far less intense than playing dragoon, that I’m certain of).

Cactuar Almost Dragoon

ffxiv_07282015_224339Meanwhile, on the Cactuar server, I pushed through the main scenario quests to level 29. It’s probably because I switched classes when I was almost level 25 on archer, but this character is lagging behind in experience badly. Three times last night on my trip from 26 to 29, I was gated out of the story until I hit quests and Fates to make up for it. I’ve never had that happen with the other two characters I leveled.

Now, I’m early level 29 and gated until I hit thirty. Ouch. I’m thinking maybe I’ll run a side Halatali just to get some of my GC hunts done and see how much that gives me. I also have regular class hunts I need to clean up. Plenty of options to get that level, so I’m not worried about it.

I still have yet to level my sub class to unlock Dragoon, too, but I’m getting closer! I really just want that level 30 chocobo companion unlock! 🙂

I decided if I am going to be running most of these dungeons anyhow, I may as well unlock Triple Triad, so I stopped by the Gold Saucer last night for that.

I did complete Haukke Manor for the first time on that character, and can confirm the DPS queue was less than 3 mins(!) So, they really do seem to be giving first-timers the head of the queue on dungeons. The dungeon itself was a standard PUG run with a tank who was too hesitant, a black mage who was too assertive and a healer who refused to lift a finger to turn off the lamps for the final boss mechanics. Ah, well. Got through it and that’s all that matters.


Gotta love that Gold Saucer cutscene if you approach it at night.
Gotta love that Gold Saucer cut scene if you approach it at night.


  1. This isn’t me saying “Get Gud” but you might just want to practice a bit more with Bard. I only say this because Bard and Machnist are both Jobs used by Free Companies doing world firsts on Alexander Savage, so you might just be missing something.

    1. It’s really not about numbers, it’s more about how the class feels now as compared to how it felt the previous 54 levels. I think that’s what a lot of Bards are trying to communicate right now, and I understand why.

      1. It *does* really feel different, and I think that’s a valid issue. While the argument can be made that it’s a good change… the issue remains that it’s a significant change to the feel of the class that takes 52 levels to reach. So if you find you don’t like the new playstyle… well, you just spent 52 levels worth of time to discover that you’d rather play something else.

  2. I’d argue that, from a realism standpoint, a bow should be a much more slow-paced weapon than a spear. But well, this is FF we’re talking about, so…

    I’d still welcome a more slow-paced, sniper style of archery over the gunslinger style we usually get in MMO’s. But I get the impression that what you’re experiencing is a kind of half-baked in-between?

    1. Lemme see if I can explain in any comprehendable way. It’s complex.

      Dragoon is the slowest of the melee DPS due to the spear. However, you have your main rotation skills which are all on a global cooldown. Between them, you weave the off global cooldown skills, such as self-buffs and (in the case of Dragoon) a series of jumps. Once you get end game gear with higher skill speed stats, and the fact that you must be constantly aware of positionals (back or flank) and dodging ground AOEs, it feels like a faster paced class.

      Bard, on the other hand, has played like the high mobility, but lower DPS pew pew class with support (magic regen, TP regen, or buffing magic damage) for over a year and a half. All of their skills (like melee DPS) were insta-cast and they could damage on the fly while dodging AOEs.

      At level 52, they introduced a new stance that does several things:

      -removes the Bard’s auto attack (which did about 20%) of Bard damage, with the exchange of a 30% buff to skills to cover it
      -forces the Bard to stay stationary to use skills they used to be able to pew pew on the fly
      -adds a cast timer to all skills, significantly slowing down our battle speed… so now, it feels like we’re a “Bow-Mage” as people on the forum like to call us
      -adds a few end game skills (one that has the possibility of high spike damage) that can only be used while under this stance

      The idea, the devs said, is for the Bards to be able to choose when to use this stance and when to drop it. Dropping it drops overall DPS (though we still remain at the bottom tier of DPS compared to all other classes), but allows us to regain our mobility. The problem, however, is this stance and the added cast timers to our skills screws up the flow of our rotation and feels really clunky (IMHO) compared to how fluid the class played before.

      The new machinist class is the gunslinger style you mentioned. They play almost identically to bard with the same sort of stance earned at level 52. However, their class was built around this stance, and I have heard plays much more fluid than bard. It feels like bard just got this stance tacked on to them when most of us didn’t pick this class to play Bow-Mage.

      At this point, I’ll probably push Zuri’s Bard to level 60 and shelf the character in terms of battle for unless they make significant changes to the flow of battle for Bard. Dragoon is much more satisfying for me to play, and trying to gear up one character is more than enough. I can always level something else on Zuri later, I suppose.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to explain things.

        So basically, the devs did a bit of design copy-paste. Actually makes me wonder why they added this Machinist in the first place, rather than properly fine-tune the Bard.

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