The FFXIV Arcanists Starter Guide v1.0
Greetings Alla. It's been a VERY long time! Some of you who were vets of the FFXI SMN board might remember who I am. Well the Ghostbusters are back in town for FFXIV. And I'm pretty disappointed in all the..... wasted potential! that I've been seeing among my favorite Job and its new predecessor. This is going to be a guide series for ACNs and SMNs that, like the Summoner's Handbook, will introduce you to the more esoteric and powerful abilities of the class that you won't find in the playguide.
Arcanist (ACN) is FF14s first pet-user class. Being the newest class to the field and having a rather cute pet, it is also undoubtedly one of the most popular classes among lower level players right now. And many of these players are either not using it correctly, or they are using it but being..... frankly kinda obnoxious about it.
Basic rules of play:
>Learn ALL the commands for your pet and practice using them. I met a level 21 ACN last night who didn't know what the "Heel" command did. There is much more to your pet than "Summon - Bio - Autoattack" and if you aren't using its abilities to their fullest then you're being gimpy at best and harming your party at worst. The "place" command is incredibly useful because you can kite without having to move yourself away from the party. "Obey" can stop the pet from using moves like Emerald Carby's knockback which might interfere with boss fights.
>ACN has backup healing capability through Physic, at least at the lower levels up through 35. Do your part and keep your eye on the party HP gauges. Toss a cure when needed, your party will thank you for it. Don't max yourself entirely on INT attributes - put some MND in there too to keep that spell competitive. Don't forget to RAISE people! I've met ACNs who have never cast their Resurrect spell! ACN is, in all probability, THE most versatile class in the game. Don't be afraid to go outside that DPS role at the first sign of the party needing it!
>Carby is for the fields, he is not a house pet. Please, PLEASE put him away with the Away command when you enter town if you plan to be there more than a few seconds (as in a FATE party). So many Carbys not only messes up players' targeting in the area for NPCs and the like but it increases lag. A screen full of 'buncles will drag everyone's framerate down within 50 malms and can even cause disconnects in packed midlevel zones like Quarrymill. You don't need him in town, so please respect other players on this. It'll make your play experience better too. Incidentally the same goes for mount. Your magitek looks very cool, but I'd much rather not have to see it if it keeps the dreaded 90000 away.
>Cycle your enfeebles on the main mob that your tank is targeting. Bio and Miasma should be stacked at all times. Save Virus for stronger mobs like dungeon minibosses. If DOTs are up, nobody needs a heal, and you're not playing crowd control, spam Ruin on the main target to kill things faster. Remember that you can crossclass Thunder from THM for another DOT on your plate. DOTs can do a significant portion of damage for you while you focus on other things.
>Solo ACN is a cakewalk at lower levels, especially with Topaz Carby (TCarb, Cartankle). Remember to keep his HP topped up with Sustain and Physic. You can target him with heals like any other party member. The longer you keep him alive the tougher the mob you can handle. Soloing things 5, 6, 8 levels above you in the 20s is not at all unreasonable.
Dungeons are a contentious point because we have a lot of WoW kiddies playing 14 now. In their game, pet tanks are a huge nuisance in dungeon battles and considered the sign of a gimp player. Needless to say, FF14 is not World of Warcraft. In FFXI, the ultimate utility of the Summoner class was its ability to hold and kite mobs on its own, since it could be, essentially, in two places at once. FF14 has wildly expanded this capability with the defense and tanking power of Topaz Carby and later Titan. Using it in the three story quest dungeons, with a capable ACN at the helm, makes the entire trek a breeze.
Recall what I said about mastering all of the pet commands. "Sic" and "Heel" are the chief abilities needed for an ACN to work crowd control. In a dungeon with a tank, a healer, and a damage dealer, the role of the ACN should be to spread himself out: To use Sic to grab excess adds as the tank pulls. He then uses Sic repeatedly to grab another add or two, allowing Carby to get in just one hit apiece on them to pull hate. The ACN moves away from the tank, such as to the side (or uses "Place" if he's on the ball!) and uses Heel to pull the adds away and keep the tank and DDs out of their AOE attacks, and to keep the tank's mob out of Carby's AOE hatebuilding range. A final Sic on one of the adds to keep Carby locked on them, and the ACN then stands back and uses Sustain and Physic to keep Topaz alive, while loading DOT spells on the tank's target.
As the other three party members finish each mob off, the tank engages the next one off of Carby and the battle resumes until no mobs are left.
>The tank has to deal with less hate control issues
>The party can focus on a single target or just a pair at a time
>The healer has less work to do since players are taking less damage from adds
>Carby is expendable whereas players are not. Bombs, anyone?
>The ACN can take care of Carby solo without troubling the healer
>It doesn't stop the ACN from doing their other job with DOTs and backup heals
>Everyone's life is easier and the dungeon goes faster.
The ACN and tank should set up a plan at the start to decide which side of the room each will deal with. If the tank calls "Right", they'll mark and pull the nearest mob on the right side of the room or hallway, meaning the ACN will start grabbing adds from the far left and working their way over. This way Carby and the tank aren't ever stepping on eachother's toes and the ACN is an asset to the party and not a liability. The ACN is the "nanny class." Their job is to take care of the rest of the party and keep them out of trouble.
The other good use for Carby is the reverse of the above situation. A dungeon miniboss with a lot of adds is a good example. The tank pulls one of the adds and links at the same time as the ACN sics Carby on the miniboss. Topaz can hold out for quite a while, and he will keep the strongest monster occupied and away from the party while they deal with its friends. By the time Topaz goes down, the miniboss will be all alone and easy prey for the combined party. In boss fights, the ACN should use its mob holding ability to the fullest. At the boss of Sastasha, I was holding two and three Sahagin pops at a time to keep the tank from catching a lot of damage. Every time they spawned, I would claim several of them by switching targets and Sic'ing Topaz, and the other DD would break off the boss and kill them along side me using Carby as his temp-tank. Even while I wasn't engaging the Boss himself, I kept DOTs and Virus on him to contribute to the fight. The healer was on the ball and would toss a Cure at Topaz when my Physic was being overwhelmed. Once each wave of adds was down, we would all converge on the Boss and take a huge chunk off its HP and repeat with the next group of adds.
In the dungeon fight against the giant Slime, it was decided that I should use Carby to hold the boss on top of the bomb spawn, giving everyone else time to get clear of the Selfdestruct AOEs. Topaz was a trooper, and a quick repetition of the Sic command was enough to grab the smaller slimes and keep them occupied at the appropriate spot.
For the inevitable declaration of "why help sucky tanks?!" "ur tank must suck he can't hold 4 adds at once!" and so forth that seem to be so disappointingly prevalent, I would remind you of this: ACN is not a job for people who don't have the ethic of doing what's best for the team. You can't play it to parse big numbers and enlarge your E-Wang and still be doing your job properly. You're the key support member in your party. If you're contemptuously asking why you should make an effort to make one or more of your party member's lives easier, I question what you're doing playing this game. Winning is a TEAM effort, and doing that little bit extra to make THEIR experience more enjoyable is also a key part of teamwork. A Summoner does not half-*** and think only of himself, his damage, his numbers, HIS gear. His party, his TEAM, are MORE important than himself. The spirit of self-sacrifice is one of the hallmarks of the job from the early days, because in that dark time before the patches it was the only way to earn respect and invites. Get your skills up to par and be an asset, and the game will be better for all of us.
And be nice while you're at it. The most important member of the party might not even be the tank or the healer, it might be the guy or gal who takes it upon themselves to be the glue that holds the party together. The one who makes the effort to cool hot heads, educate new players, explain complex strategies, and calms arguments and tempers insults. Why should YOU bother with that! well, you're a Summoner, aren't you? It's what we do. We're "that guy!"
Thank you for reading. There will be more to come.