FFXIV Black Mage Guide - Blow Up Your Enemies with Fire and Ice!
FFXIV Black Mage Guide
Black Mage is one of the most potent DPS characters in the game. If you want to cast devastating elemental spells and top your party's damage charts, you might be interested in playing this job. On the other hand, Black Mage is definitely a glass cannon that has to work around the casting times of multiple spells. The knowledge of how long you can linger in one place going through your skills and abilities is a crucial aspect of playing the job. You're not going to deal that much damage when you're moving, but if you don't reposition in time – you're likely to die. Let's jump into this guide updated for the 5.1 Shadowbringers patch and learn a thing or two.
Basics of Black Mage
Black Mage (BLM) is one of the original jobs that have been introduced in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Just like the rest of these jobs, it has a combat class associated with it – Thaumaturge. To become a Black Mage, you'll have to get to level 30 on your Thaumaturge first. To start leveling this class, or later advance into Black Mage, you're going to have to visit the Thaumaturge's Guild located on Steps of Nald in the city of Ul' dah.
Black Mages wear cloth armors and empower their spells with staves. They use the powers of ice and fire to destroy everything that stands in their way. It's the most conventional DPS caster job in FFXIV. Moreover, they also have access to some nice mobility options as well as self buffs to increase personal damage output even further.
You could make an argument that Black Mage is currently a bit on the overpowered side. This job doesn't require as many actions per minute as some other characters in the DPS role, while also having the possibility of dealing more damage than anyone else. Instead of focusing on a tight and polished rotation, Black Mages have to play around their long casting times and smart positioning. However, if they're successful in that - they can reach the highest potency per second (PPS) out of all jobs.
If you're allowed to stand in one place and just DPS away, you should be able to deal with the highest amount of damage. On the other hand, you lose much efficiency if you spend most of the time dodging AoE attacks. That's why to become a great and experienced Black Mage player, you're going to need nearly perfect knowledge of bosses and their activity patterns. It will let you minimize movement (or at least time spent while moving) and allow you to cast more powerful spells.
In terms of gear stats from the items, many Black Mage players place some priority on Spell Speed. It's difficult to say how much exactly you should get, as it comes down to personal preference. We recommend trying out a few setups and checking which one you feel the most comfortable with. You want your rotation to be as fluid and easy to use as possible. After that, you can prioritize Direct Hit and Critical Hit.
Black Mage only has access to a single job gauge. However, the Elemental Gauge can switch between two forms: Astral Fire and Umbral Ice. They both have opposite effects. Astral Fire makes your spells have an increased MP cost, but also makes them hit significantly harder. On the other hand, Umbral Ice doesn't provide any additional damage but increases your MP recovery. Both can be stacked up to three times, for a more powerful effect.
This mechanic divides your rotation into two separate phases. Astral Fire is the main DPS part, during which you're going to dish out as much damage as possible. When you're low on mana, you want to switch to Umbral Ice. Of course, Black Mage still deals some damage in this phase, but its main focus is resource management. During Umbral Ice, you can also get access to a resource called Umbral Hearts. You can later consume them while casting fire spells – each Umbral Heart will work on one spell - by nullifying the additional MP cost caused by Astral Fire.
There are specific spells that you can use to switch between the elements. Basically, casting any of your fire spells will grant you a stack of Astral Fire, and using ice magic provides Umbral Ice stacks. Theoretically, it allows you to stay in one phase forever. Still, you will eventually run out of MP in Astral Fire, and keeping the Umbral Ice duration for too long is inefficient in terms of damage. You can also swap between them by using the Transpose ability and at the same time, maintaining either of those phases together with Enochian buff for 30 seconds or longer grants you a Polyglot stack. It provides access to some powerful spells. You don't have to stay in a single element for 30 seconds. You just have to make sure that the gauge doesn't run out.
Black Mage Fire Spells
Fire – a 180 potency single target spell with 2.5 seconds casting time. It has a 40% chance that your next Fire III will cost 0 MP and have an instant casting time.
Fire II – AoE spell with a potency of 80 and 3 seconds casting time.
Fire III – a single target spell with a potency of 240 and 3.5 seconds casting time.
Fire IV – a single target with a potency of 300 and 2.8 seconds casting time. It can only be used when both Astral Fire and Enochian are active.
Flare – an AoE spell that hits its main target with a potency of 260 and all the secondary targets for 60% of that damage. It has 4 seconds of casting time. It depletes all your remaining MP.
Despair – a single target spell with a potency of 380 and 3 seconds casting time. It can only be executed under the effects of both Astral Fire and Enochian. It uses all the MP that you have left.
Black Mage Ice Spells
Blizzard – a single target spell with a potency of 180 and 2.5 seconds casting time.
Blizzard II – an AoE spell with a potency of 50 and 2 seconds casting time.
Blizzard III – a single target spell with a potency of 240 and a casting time of 3.5 seconds.
Blizzard IV – a single target spell that has a potency of 300 and a casting time of 2.8 seconds. It can only be used when Umbral Ice and Enochian are active. Additionally, it provides 3 Umbral Hearts.
Freeze – an AoE spell with a potency of 100 and 2.5 seconds casting time. It also grants 1 Umbral Heart.
Umbral Soul – grants Umbral Ice and 1 Umbral Heart. It's an instant cast. You can only use it when both Enochian and Umbral Ice are active.
Other important spells and abilities
Transpose – a skill that lets you swap between Umbral Ice and Astral Fire.
Thunder – a relatively weak DoT. It gets replaced by Thunder III at higher levels.
Thunder II – an AoE damage over time spell that has 3 seconds casting time. Later on, it's replaced by Thunder IV.
Thunder III – your most powerful single-target DoT. It has 2.5 seconds casting time and a 10% chance of a special proc with every tick of damage. The proc makes your next Thunder spell deal a lot more instant damage and cost no MP. It's not a crucial part of your kit by any means, but taking advantage of these procs is a pretty substantial DPS boost.
Thunder IV – your most powerful AoE damage over time. It has 3 seconds of casting time.
Manaward – creates a shield equal to 30% of your max HP. It has a 120 seconds cooldown and an instant cast.
Manafont – instantly restores 30% of your max MP. It has a 3-minute recast timer and no cast time.
Aetherial Manipulation – teleport to the target party member. It has a 10 seconds cooldown.
Ley Lines – creates a circle on the ground for 30 seconds. When you stand inside it, cast and recast timers of your spells are reduced by 15%. It has a 90 seconds cooldown. Utilizing this ability is extremely important, as it can significantly increase your overall DPS, by shortening the long cast times.
Between the Lines – teleports you to your Ley Lines. It only has a 3 seconds recast timer. You can use this ability to dodge AoE attacks while also not wasting too much time without casting spells.
Sharpcast – ensures that your next Fire or Thunder spell will trigger its additional effect (MP cost and cast time reduction for Fire and extra initial damage for Thunder). It has a 30 seconds cooldown.
Enochian – increases your magic damage dealt by 15%. It also enables you to use Fire IV, Blizzard IV, Despair, and Umbral Soul. It can last as long as you can maintain the Elemental Gauge. When its duration exceeds 30 seconds, it provides a Polyglot stack. Enochian has a 30 seconds cooldown, but you can theoretically keep it up all the time. You should aim to do so since it provides extra damage, and you want to have your Elemental Gauge active anyway.
Triplecast – makes your next three spells have an instant cast time, providing overall DPS gain and more mobility options. It has a 60-second cooldown.
Swiftcast – basically a weaker version of Triplecast. It makes your next spell an instant cast. This ability also has a 1-minute cooldown.
Foul – a very powerful (650 potency on the primary target, reduced on the rest) AoE spell that uses a Polyglot stack. It has a 2.5 second cast time.
Xenoglossy – your strongest single target damage spell – it has a potency of 750. It has an instant cast time but consumes a Polyglot stack.
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Black Mage traits
Magick and Mend – provides an extra 10% base action damage and healing power. It also allows for getting a second stack of the Elemental Gauge.
Thundercloud – gives your Thunder spells a chance to proc the special effect. You can use this proc later by casting another Thunder and getting the instantly frontloaded damage.
Magick and Mend II – improves the additional damage and healing up to 30%. It also unlocks the third stacks of Umbral Ice and Astral Fire.
Firestarter – gives your Fire I a 40% chance to get a proc. It makes the next Fire III an instant cast that costs 0 MP.
Thunder Mastery – upgrades Thunder I to a much more powerful Thunder III
Thunder Mastery II – improves Thunder II to a higher potency AoE damage over time spell – Thunder IV
Enhanced Umbral Heart – reduces the MP required to cast Flare by 33% when you have an Umbral Heart active. It's vital for the AoE rotation.
Enhanced Freeze – provides 1 Umbral Heart per each Freeze cast. Another critical component of the AoE rotation.
Enhanced Enochian – unlocks the Polyglot stacks and increases the Enochian's damage boost.
Aspect Mastery – When you have full stacks of Astral Fire or Umbral Ice, the next spell from the opposing element will cost no MP. It allows you to easily swap from fire to the ice phase without having to worry about the MP cost of Blizzard III.
Enhanced Sharpcast – reduces the recast timer of Sharpcast to 30 seconds.
Enhanced Enochian II – increases the Enochian damage boost to 15%.
Enhanced Polyglot – unlocks the stacking mechanic for Polyglot.
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Playstyle tips and rotations
As you might have noticed, a few of Black Mage's spells and abilities can synergize with each other really well. Especially the Umbral Heart mechanic really encourages switching elements during rotation. That's why you will often want to open your single target rotation with Blizzard III, Enochian, and then cast Blizzard IV to get the full Umbral Hearts stacks. You should also apply Thunder III as soon as possible, to get the DoT going early. It's currently the best way of starting a fight. Then you want to swap into Astral Fire to deal as much damage as possible. First, you need to get the Astral Fire III (you can do it by merely casting Fire III) and use your remaining Umbral Hearts on casting Fire IV spells.
An example single target opener would look like this:
Sharpcast->Blizzard III->Enochian->Thunder III->Blizzard IV->Ley Lines->Fire III->Triplecast->3x Fire IV…
Then you keep going with your fire spells until you run out of MP and finish off with Despair.
General spell and ability usage
During the general rotation, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First of all, you don't want to let Enochian run out – try to keep it going all the time. Besides the +15% damage as well as access to Blizzard IV and Fire IV, it will also generate the Polyglot stacks. You're going to want to use them on Xenoglossy as you get them.
At the same time, you also want to keep the Thunder IV DoT running and use all your procs. You don't want to use the Thunder IV proc right as it appears. Wait until the proc or the DoT is close to expiring for extra DPS efficiency (don't wait too long, because you might lose the proc).
Of course, you also want to use your cooldowns. Always combine Sharpcast with Fire when switching from Umbral Ice to Astral Fire. The 100% proc will allow you to instantly cast Fire III and get to fully stacked Astral Fire. Ley Lines are incredibly powerful, and they also provide extra mobility with Between the Lines, so use them if there are a 30 seconds DPS window. You can also add a Potion of Intelligence to your rotation for even more power - if you're able to find room for it.
As we mentioned earlier, it's crucial to spend as much time as possible casting spells and not running around, dodging attacks. It is where mobility abilities come into play. Aetherial Manipulation and Between the Lines can be used to avoid damage while keeping your downtime as low as possible.
While DPSing, make sure that you utilize Swiftcast and Triplecast to accelerate some powerful spells in your fire phase. However, saving them for the elemental swaps can also be a good idea.
You should keep the fire rotation as long as you still have MP to cast spells. When you run out of it, finish it off with Despair to go down to 0 and then switch to Umbral Ice. Once every three minutes, you can artificially extend the fire phase with Manafont. Use it after Despair, come back to your standard fire spells and when you're out of the additional MP, use Despair again and then swap to ice.
During Umbral Ice, you'll still cast spells and deal some damage, but at the same time, you're going to gradually restore MP. Once again, after swapping the element, you should get it fully stacked as fast as possible. You're going to want to use Blizzard III. You can accelerate it with Swiftcast if it's available. Remember that Astral Fire only empowers the fire spells, so using Thunder and spending the Polyglot stacks is actually really good in Umbral Ice. At the end of your ice phase, you should always make sure that you have all three Umbral Hearts. If you don't – use Blizzard IV. Umbral Ice regenerates MP exceptionally quickly. It makes this part of your rotation short.
It will often look like this:
Blizzard III->Blizzard IV->Thunder III->Fire III (to get back to Astral Fire)
As we said, if you have any Polyglot stacks – spend them here on weaving in Xenoglossy.
At this point, you should have almost full MP and be back in the Astral Fire 3. It's time to convert that resource into damage during the true DPS fire phase. Your standard fire rotation (excluding cooldowns) will look like this:
3x Fire IV->Fire I->3x Fire IV->Despair
If the Fire I resulted in a proc – you want to use it on an additional instant Fire III that costs no MP (use it before Despair). If you didn't get the proc, finish off with Despair and go back to Umbral Ice with Blizzard III. Then you're going to repeat the ice phase and fire phase while also using our cooldowns and Polyglot stacks until the boss dies.
The AoE rotation is straightforward since Freeze generates Umbral Hearts. This mechanic has a unique interaction with Flare. Instead of depleting your whole MP pool, it costs 1/3 of your max MP. Your main goal is to use as many Flares as possible, while also using the Polyglot stacks on Foul and keeping the Thunder IV DoT running.
An example rotation (excluding cooldowns) looks like this:
Freeze->Thunder IV->Fire III->Flare->Flare->Freeze…
Then you repeat this short sequence. Of course, if your Thunder IV didn't get a proc and there's still a lot of the duration left, you shouldn't recast it. Instead, you can use a Foul or an ice spell. It's the highest DPS rotation against multiple enemies.
FF14 Black Mage
As you can see, Black Mage requires a slightly different skill set than many other damage jobs. While it's less challenging in terms of mechanics, it is much more based on the proper strategy and time optimization. Proper positioning and taking advantage of your inherent mobility are crucial to succeed as Black Mage. Rotations and resource management are relatively easy and not too taxing.
The problematic part is casting as many spells as possible without dying. If you spend most of your time dodging around, then your DPS numbers will be pitiful. On the other hand, being too greedy might result in getting hit by some powerful AoE and dying. You're not going to deal any damage when you're dead.
If you are a kind of a player who enjoys getting rewarded for smart, tactical play – Black Mage can be perfect for you. This job allows you to top the DPS charts, even if other damage dealers in your party press twice as many buttons. However, if positioning has never been your strong suit, you might want to look for something else.
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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a hit MMORPG by Square Enix. It has been re-released in 2013 and gathered a huge, friendly and loyal community of players. The game has already received three major expansions. The two previous ones are Heavensward and Stromblood, while the most recent is called Shadowbringers. FF14 includes 17 standard jobs as well as multiple crafting and gathering classes. If Black Mage doesn't exactly fit your style, you might be better off playing a physical DPS, healer or a tank.
How to become Black Mage?
The only way of becoming a Black Mage is getting to level 30 as Thaumaturge. Then you have to visit Thaumaturge's Guild in the city of Ul' dah. Then you have to complete two quests: Sylph-management and Facing your Dreams.
Is FFXIV Black Mage good?
Black Mage is the most potent DPS job in Final Fantasy XIV. As long as you're able to cast spells at all times, you should easily outdamage all the other jobs.
FFXIV Black Mage vs. Summoner
Black Mage has higher DPS, it's overall simpler to play, but it has much worse mobility. Summoner is more complex, but he can move around easily and provides stronger utility tools. Black Mage is much more of a "pure DPS."