FFXIV Monk Guide - Demolish Your Foes with Kicks and Punches!
FFXIV Monk Guide
Monks are the Final Fantasy XIV martial arts experts. They deal damage with punches and kicks while taking advantage of positioning to become even more effective. This job also utilizes Greased Lightning - a stacking mechanic that allows them to increase their damage output. The way Monks combine their weaponskills is also slightly different than other melee DPS jobs.
Basics of Monk
Since its first iteration in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Monk was a very active, unique DPS job. Heavy reliance on positional has always been a key element of this character's identity. While these directional bonuses are not groundbreaking most of the time, they are prevalent in every weaponskill. Being able to proc them consistently, eventually sums up in a major DPS increase. To become a Monk, you first have to get level 30 as Pugilist. The Pugilist's Guild is located on Steps of Nald in Ul'dah. Monks wear leather armors and use fist weapons.
Attribute-wise, Monk's kit can get a lot of value from high Critical Rate, so getting a lot of it from your gear is always a good idea. It should be the first stat to look at after weapon damage. Direct Hit is also good as a second priority.
Besides the positional special effects, Monk's weaponskills feature another interesting mechanic – forms. There are three available ones: Opo-opo, Raptor, and Couerl. You can use Opo-opo skills even if you're not in any form, but having it will grant you some empowered effects. Executing an Opo-opo skill makes you take the Raptor form. After you execute one of the Raptor skills, you can perform one of the Coeurl weaponskills. Doing that will grant you a stack of Greased Lightning and return you to the Opo-opo form.
Overall, the whole mechanic is just a small twist on the classic "one-two-three" combo that many other jobs have. Monks have a bit more freedom since they have access to three options on every step (one AoE option and two single-target ones).
Monk has access to two job gauges. Both of them are stacking mechanisms, but how you acquire and utilize these resources are much different. They are Lightning Gauge and Chakra Gauge.
Lightning Gauge and Greased Lightning
The stacks of Greased Lightning are displayed on Lightning Gauge, which is Monk's first job gauge. Each stack of Greased Lightning provides +10% damage dealt and reduces your cast and recast timers of weaponskills and spells, as well as the auto-attack delay by 5%. They have a relatively short duration of 16 seconds. You can generate these stacks with some of your weaponskills.
A max level Monk can hold up to four of these stacks. Keeping them up at all times is an incredibly important aspect of playing this job. Luckily, it has been made substantially easier since the introduction of the Shadowbringers update.
Monk has five chakras that can be either opened or closed. Opening all of them provides access to two powerful damage abilities: The Forbidden Chakra for single targets and Enlightenment for AoE.
There are a few ways of opening chakras. You can do it with an ability called Meditation. You can also generate this resource passively with critical strikes thanks to your traits. Finally, your party members can help you out with that when they're buffed by your Brotherhood ability.
The worst part is the fact that you can only spend that resource when it's fully stacked. It means that you have no real flexibility in when to use the chakra abilities. For the sake of efficiency, you want to dump that resource as soon as you can, to avoid overwriting the pre-existing stacks with the new ones. That being said, you can sometimes sit on five chakras for 10 seconds or more if there's a raid burst window coming up. All the sources of generating chakras, besides Meditation, are really random and inconsistent, so you have to keep an eye on this gauge all the time.
As a Monk, you're going to have access to three elemental stances: Fists of Earth, Fists of Fire, and Fists of Wind. They are no-cost toggle skills on really short cooldowns. Fists of Earth provide a 10% incoming damage reduction – you will rarely use it as a DPS class, but it can save you from some unavoidable damage in certain situations. Fists of Fire are theoretically the most desired option – they grant 10% extra damage.
At the same time, Fists of Wind provide only movement speed. There's an interesting catch, though – after level 76, you'll be able to get an additional Greased Lightning stack when Fists of Wind are active (4 stacks in the Wind, 3 in other forms). As you know, a stack of Greased Lightning not only provides an extra 10% damage but also additional skill and attack speed, alongside the movement speed from the stance itself. That's what makes Fists of Wind the best choice for a Monk in the late game (as long as you're able to keep the max stacks of Greased Lightning).
The general play pattern depends on using Fists of Fire at the beginning and collecting the three stacks in this stance. Then, you should swap to Fists of Wind to access the fourth stack and optimize your damage output. Extra 10% is too valuable to be completely surpassed, but the additional stack of Greased Lightning makes Wind more valuable.
These are the three skills that you can use to start your combo. They don't require any form, but often they get extra potency when you're in Opo-opo.
Bootshine – a single target attack with a potency of 150. It is guaranteed to critically strike when executed from behind.
Dragon Kick – a single target attack with a potency of 180 (200 from a flank). It grants a buff called Leaden Fist that provides an additional 150 potency to your next Bootshine.
Arm of the Destroyer – AoE attack with a potency of 110.
These three skills require Raptor form, which makes them the middle part in your "one-two-three" combo.
True Strike – a single target attack with a potency of 220 (240 when executed from target's rear).
Twin Snakes – a single target attack with a potency of 150 (170 from a flank). Additionally, it increases all the damage you deal by 10% for the next 15 seconds.
Four-point Fury – an AoE attack with a potency of 120. It extends the duration of the Twin Snakes buff by 10 seconds (to a maximum of 15 seconds).
These three skills require Coeurl form, which makes them the final pieces of your combos. Performing either one of these actions returns you to the Opo-opo form.
Snap Punch – a single target attack with a potency of 210 (230 from the flank). It grants a Greased Lightning stack.
Demolish – an attack with a weak initial hit (70 potency, 90 from the rear) that also inflicts a DoT effect. Additionally, it generates a stack of Greased Lightning.
Rockbreaker – an AoE attack that has a potency of 120 and grants a Greased Lightning stack.
Form Shift – it technically is a weaponskill, but it deals no damage. You can use it to transition into the next form. If you don't have any form active, it will grant you Opo-opo. You're not going to use this skill in combat, but it can be useful to get the form before the fight even starts. Using it in the Coeurl form additionally refreshes your Greased Lightning duration. Form Shift is the best available tool to make sure that you don't lose these stacks.
Six-sided Star – it's a unique skill that has a potency of 400 and extends the duration of Greased Lightning to the maximum. However, using it will put all your other GCDs on 5 seconds cooldown. It's an extremely situational skill that's rarely used. The high potency doesn't compensate for the clunkiness and a disrupted rotation. You should use this skill pretty much only when you know that you won't be able to use any weaponskills in the next five seconds (the boss hides or becomes untargetable, et cetera).
We already talked about Fists of Wind, Fists of Earth, and Fists of Fire, so we're going to skip over that.
Shoulder Tackle – a gap closer that also deals damage with a potency of 100. You can store up to 2 charges of this ability. Furthermore, it can be weaved in as a source of extra damage. It has a 30 seconds cooldown.
Mantra – provides 10% extra healing received by you and nearby party members for 15 seconds. It has a recast timer of 90 seconds.
Howling Fist – a line AoE attack with a potency of 210. It has a one-minute cooldown.
Perfect Balance – a 10 seconds buff that allows for executing all weaponskills, even without the required form. You can use it to charge up Greased Lightning quickly. It has a two minutes recast timer.
Meditation – when used in combat, it opens up a chakra. Out of combat, it opens up all five of them, giving you access to some powerful abilities.
The Forbidden Chakra – a single target attack with a potency of 370. It requires the effect of Fifth Chakra to be executed. Using this ability closes all five chakras.
Elixir Field – a 200 potency AoE attack that has a 30 seconds cooldown.
Tornado Kick - a single target attack that can only be executed with max Greased Lightning stacks. Using this skill consumes all said stacks. Even the high potency of 430 doesn't compensate for the lost value of three or four Greased Lightning stacks. Most Monk players almost never use this ability.
Riddle of Fire – a 20 seconds self-buff that provides 25% extra damage. It has a recast timer of 90 seconds.
Riddle of Earth – it refreshes the duration of Greased Lightning. Additionally, if you take any damage when the Riddle of Earth is active, you will get a buff called Earth's Reply. It lasts 30 seconds and allows you to get the directional bonuses from your weaponskills, even if you're not in the right position. Riddle of Earth has a one-minute cooldown.
Brotherhood – it grants +5% physical damage to you and nearby party members and provides a 30% chance for you to open a chakra when any of them executes a weaponskill. Brotherhood lasts 15 seconds and has a 90 seconds cooldown. It's a huge reason why Monk synergizes better with other physical damage dealers than mages.
Enlightenment – a line-shaped AoE attack with a potency of 220. Using it requires the Fifth Chakra, and it closes all chakras.
Anatman – stops the expiration of your form and Greased Lightning stacks. If you use it in combat, it lets you generate more of them. However, it can't be used when your weaponskills are on cooldown, and it is quite unreliable overall. At the same time, standing in place and channeling this ability is often not the best idea. Anatman has a one-minute recast timer.
True North – this role action allows you to get the positional effect from your next weaponskill, even without standing in the right place. It has a 45 seconds cooldown. You should only use it on Bootshine.
Enhanced Greased Lighting – unlocks the second stack of Greased Lightning
Enhanced Greased Lightning II – unlocks the third stack of Greased Lightning
Deep Meditation – 50% chance of opening a chakra if weaponskill hits critically.
Enhanced Tackle – allows holding the second stack of Shoulder Tackle.
Enhanced Fists of Fire – improves the bonus damage provided by Fists of Fire to 10%.
Deep Meditation II – increases the chance of opening a chakra with a weaponskill critical hit to 70%.
Riddle of Wind – unlocks an extra Greased Lightning stack when Fists of Wind are active.
Gameplay and Tips
Monks have a plethora of tools that they can use to destroy their enemies. Learning to take advantage of them all can be slightly difficult at first. We're going to talk about the best openers and rotations, as well as the most efficient ways to utilize the long cooldowns. Since Monk is a melee DPS, it's crucial that you stick to the boss as much as possible. That's also why you should always have a stack of Shoulder Tackle saved to get back to your target immediately. It increases your DPS uptime since sometimes you'll have to get away from the boss because of mechanics or avoiding AoE.
As we have already discussed, all the Monk's single target weaponskills, except for Six-side Star, have directional bonuses. The guaranteed crit on Bootshine is valuable, especially if it's buffed by the Leaden Fist. Other skills gain an unimpressive 20 potency – it makes missing out on the directionals much less punishing. On the other hand, consistently hitting them is not that rewarding. Of course, it eventually adds up to a decent DPS gain, but it shouldn't be your priority.
You should never delay your weaponskill to get the positional. It might sometimes be worth it for Bootshine, but even in this case, it's arguable. Besides, keeping your GCD going at all times is an excellent habit that you should try and enforce. In the perfect world, you'd be able to hit every directional bonus without slowing down your rotation, but in reality, it's rather difficult – especially in the beginning. You're going to get better at it as you keep playing, though.
If your target is relatively immobile, you should try to stand in a spot where one of the flanks connects with the rear. All directionals require you to position either on the side or on the back of your target. This way, you can quickly reach both of these requirements with just a few steps in either direction. As you may suppose, the situation gets a lot trickier with enemies who turn around a lot.
You should plan all your rotations around the uptime of Twin Snakes. The extra 10% damage buff is critical, and you can keep it up for almost the whole combat. Besides that, you want to apply the DoT from Demolish – in general, damage over time skills have the highest efficiency, as long as they can last their whole duration.
Single target rotation
The basic single target weaponskill rotation is a pattern of four combos that you can repeat indefinitely. It gives you the highest possible uptime of Twin Snakes and Demolish (you activate them in the first combo, and they never fall off). The rotation looks like this:
Dragon Kick->Twin Snakes->Demolish->Bootshine->True Strike->Snap Punch->Dragon Kick->Twin Snakes->Snap Punch->Bootshine->True Strike->Demolish
Keep in mind that the oGCD usage is not included here since you're going to use them as you come off cooldown.
Later on, when you're getting comfortable with this job, and you get access to the fourth Greased Lightning stack, you can go for a slightly stronger and more difficult rotation. It allows you to dish out higher amounts of damage, but it's also more punishing if you make a mistake. In general, it utilizes the extra attack speed and skill speed from the fourth Greased Lightning Stack to squeeze in an extra True Strike combo between the Twin Snakes. This way, instead of using Twin Snakes in every second combo, you're going to utilize in every third. It's going to look like this:
Dragon Kick->Twin Snakes->Demolish->Bootshine->True Strike->Snap Punch->Dragon Kick->True Strike->Snap Punch->Bootshine->Twin Snakes->Demolish
It's a minimal difference, but it makes your overall rotation more efficient (True Strike has 70 more potency than Twin Snakes).
On the other hand, if you mess up, you're more likely to get some downtime on your Twin Snakes damage buff, so there's always a risk. If you don't feel comfortable with it, you can stick with the easier rotation even with four stacks of Greased Lightning, but it's good to switch to this one when you genuinely get the hang of Monk. Just keep in mind that it's only possible with four stacks.
Monks have an extremely convenient AoE rotation. The form system allows combining AoE attacks with single target ones (if necessary), and Four-point Fury lets you refresh the Twin Snakes buff. The only thing to think about is Demolish. If you're facing two or three targets, it might be worth it to keep the DoT from Demolish running on them. For four or more targets, you should get the Twin Snakes buff and start spamming your AoE skills. The rotation looks like this:
Arms of the Destroyer->Twin Snakes->Rockbreaker->Arms of the Destroyer->Four-point Fury->Rockbreaker…
You don't have to go back to Twin Snakes since Four-point Fury will refresh the buff's duration.
Usage of important cooldowns
Remember that Perfect Balance lets you use all your weaponskills, regardless of form. As we already mentioned, you can use this 10 seconds window to get max Greased Lightning stacks quickly. If you're already capped, you can also utilize Perfect Balance as a source of extra damage.
You can use it to spam Dragon Kick and Bootshine to get multiple uses of the empowered Bootshine in short succession. Moreover, Perfect Balance allows for refreshing the Twin Snakes, Demolish DoT, and the Greased Lightning uptime without having to worry about forms. When Perfect Balance ends, you're not going to have any form - you're going to have to resume your rotation with Dragon Kick.
Don't forget about the Riddle of Earth and its additional Earth's Reply effect. If you use it on cooldown, you'll be able to ignore the positionals half of the time. It lasts 30 seconds with only a one-minute recast timer. Not having to care about the directional bonuses makes Monk feel a little braindead to some players, but repositioning around gigantic bosses is sometimes extremely difficult if you don't want to waste any time. Besides, there's a lot more to Monk than just positioning during your combos.
Besides, there are some more straightforward cooldowns. Riddle of Fire is a powerful increase of personal DPS, so you can try and coordinate it with some raid buffs if it's possible. The same goes for Brotherhood that provides your physical damage dealers with some additional power and generates more chakra for you. Just remember that this ability will be much less useful in a mage-heavy party.
Both Riddle of Fire and Brotherhood have 90 seconds recast timers, and you should always use them together. They synergize with each other well, as Riddle of Fire provides a ton of extra damage, and Brotherhood allows for additional uses of The Forbidden Chakra – which is a high potency ability, so further empowering it feels great. It's also a good idea to reapply your DoT from Demolish right before these buffs end.
There's not that much weaving when you're playing Monk. The most important part is using your Chakra Gauge. The Forbidden Chakra and Enlightenment are your most potent damage-focused oGCDs, so you should always prioritize them. At the same time, you can use Shoulder Tackle, Howling Fist, and Elixir Field as sources of additional damage. When they're available, weave them in between your weaponskills. Monk doesn't have that many oGCD damage abilities.
There's a lot of punching and kicking in the Monk's fighting style. If you're a fan of martial arts and you want to see some of that reflected in your gaming, you should consider this job. Every FFXIV character has to keep their GCD going as much as possible to optimize their damage output, but it's even more extreme in Monk's case.
Besides the chakra abilities, there's not that much oGCD damage in Monk's kit. The job is also really consistent. In most situations, you're going to stay with your main rotation, with the only variable being the abilities that you weave in. While the Chakra Gauge is pretty random, it doesn't disrupt your rotation anyway.
It all makes Monk a job that's very reliant on the fundamentals of melee DPS in FFXIV. You have to stay close to the boss, execute your weaponskill combos, and you have to keep your damage buffs (fully stacked Greased Lightning and Twin Snakes) as much as possible. Of course, there's some more nuance in abilities like Perfect Balance or Anatman, as well as the positional bonuses on all your weaponskills. Still, it's all less important than keeping your buffs and using them to pummel your enemies.
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