Saving The Dragoon
Dragoon is a relatively static melee DPS job with a high focus on weaving off-GCD actions in-between a rigid 10-hit sequence of GCD actions. Burst windows can get hectic, and prioritizing the various skills you need to execute can become a rather significant hassle in some instances. Endwalker has doubled down on this by introducing the ability to utilize yet more off-GCD actions at regular intervals, as if we didn’t have enough already.
The Brains Behind the Operation
Eve Malqir (Balmung) - the primary writer of this guide and Dragoon Mentor from The Balance
Always open to answering questions! Please don’t hesitate to contact me! :)
Contact: Evie#1153 on Discord | Twitch
Rhy Tamok (Phoenix) - Our resident cinnamon roll who loves to help and always goes out of his way to go above and beyond for the community. The most active Mentor in the questions channels. Contact: Rhy Tamok#0001 on Discord
Rubix Bob (Cerberus) - Probably a bigger math nerd than Eve, Rubix created and maintains a wonderful rotation tool on his personal website and is similarly knowledgeable about the class. Contact: Rubixbob#5304 on Discord
To be added!
Also known as your Global Cooldown (GCD) actions, weaponskills form the backbone upon which you weave the meat of your rotation - your Abilities (off-GCD actions). These skills are strung together in specific orders to form combos, which amplify their effects.
The Chaotic Spring Combo
|True Thrust >||Disembowel >||Chaotic Spring >||Wheeling Thrust >||Fang and Claw|
This combo allows Disembowel to apply the Power Surge buff, amplifying your damage by 10% and Chaotic Spring to inflict a damage-over-time effect that will keep constant damage rolling, even outside of your normal attacking skills.
The Heavens' Thrust Combo
|True Thrust >||Vorpal Thrust >||Heavens' Thrust >||Fang and Claw >||Wheeling Thrust|
This combo just deals raw damage, with your highest individual Weaponskill potency of Heavens’ Thrust’s 480. As it doesn’t apply any buffs, you want to make sure you only use this while Power Surge and Chaotic Spring are active already.
The Coerthan Torment Combo
|Doom Spike >||Sonic Thrust >||Coerthan Torment|
This combo affects a line of enemies in front of you. It allows Sonic Thrust to apply the Power Surge buff, amplifying your damage by 10%. This combo is only worth using when you are faced with 3 or more enemies in combat that all can be hit by each skill.
Upon properly completing any of the above combos, you will gain the buff Draconian Fire. This buff augments the next True Thrust or Doom Spike you do into Raiden Thrust or Draconian Fury, respectively. These Weaponskills combo the exact same as their unbuffed versions. They also give you 1 charge of Firstminds’ Focus, which is discussed in more detail later.
|True Thrust >||Raiden Thrust >||Doom Spike >||Draconian Fury|
While you always want to maintain your uptime on the above combos as much as possible, occasionally an encounter may push you off for an extended period of time. Rather than doing nothing, you can utilize Piercing Talon. It doesn’t break any of the above combos, nor does it negate your Draconian Fire. This is only worth doing if you would be unable to re-engage before your GCD spin completes.
|Raiden Thrust >||Disembowel >||Chaotic Spring >||Wheeling Thrust >||Fang and Claw >||Raiden Thrust >||Vorpal Thrust >||Heavens' Thrust >||Fang and Claw >||Wheeling Thrust|
Putting the above information to work, we see that, barring unforeseen circumstances, in a single-target encounter, our rotation will simply be the Chaotic Spring Combo followed by the Heavens’ Thrust Combo. We repeat this infinitely, assuming nothing interrupts our rotation.
Everyone makes them. If, in attempting to follow this rotation to the best of your ability, you make a mistake and press the wrong second hit, commit to the mistake. Restarting the combo is a larger loss than just continuing the incorrect combo string. After the mistaken combo, just return to the alternating rotation. Do not attempt to course-correct back into the old order.
Every time you land Raiden Thrust or Draconian Fury, you gain 1 charge of your Firstminds’ Focus. Two charges of this allows you to activate Wyrmwind Thrust. Because we don’t start fights with Draconian Fire, the first charge comes during the Heavens’ Thrust combo and the second during the following Chaotic Spring combo. From there, you will always be using Wyrmwind Thrust during your Chaotic Spring combo, barring any rotational errors you encounter along the way, due to user error or forced downtime. You must press Wyrmwind Thrust before your next Raiden Thrust or Draconian Fury, when it is ready to be used, otherwise you will not gain the charge of Firstminds’ Focus, leading to a drastic loss in damage.
Several actions in the kit deal more damage from the side of a boss, and several deal more from the rear. You want to be sure to set up to hit these for extra damage whenever possible.
How do I know if I’m at the side or rear of a target?
The arrow at the top is the front of the target. You get no special bonuses by attacking here, other than lots of bonus deaths for standing in tank busters and cleaves.
On the left and right, you will find the sides of the target. They account for 90° of the target on either side, but you will generally want to stand near the base of the visible line.
At the bottom of the image, there’s a gap between the two sides of the target. This empty space is the rear. When standing at the base of one side, it becomes easy to decipher between the two positions - you either attack the empty space, or the line.
Some enemies will have the side mark wrapping their entire hitbox, with no arrow to indicate a front. These target rings are special, in that you will get positional bonuses from every action without needing to worry about where you attack from. All the enemies in the Palace of the Dead, for example, have this special targeting ring.
As a Dragoon, we only have Positional requirements on three of our actions. Each of them provides an additional 40 potency when they hit the proper side of the target. Important to note is that we occasionally use Life Surge on the fifth hit of our Chaotic Spring and Heavens’ Thrust combos, but only if we manage to land the positional on it. True North is particularly useful in these situations, to guarantee success.
Fang and Claw deals 40 more potency from the side.
Chaotic Spring and Wheeling Thrust deal 40 more potency from the rear.
While it is a loss to miss your Positionals, landing them should be your last priority, after you have met all of the other combat priority requirements of a melee DPS job. These are listed in order from largest to smallest loss of damage if you fail that level.
1. Handle Mechanics
If you fail mechanics, you could cause a potential raid wipe and a fight reset. You do not want to be the cause of that. Nothing is more important than properly handling mechanics.
2. Stay Alive
Don’t die. Plain and simple. If you have to sacrifice uptime to not die, you know the choice to make. Deaths cause much larger losses than having to use a few Piercing Talons.
3. Maintain Uptime (ABC - Always Be Casting)
Stick to the boss like glue, assuming you meet one and two. Don’t let your GCD stop spinning.
4. Land Positionals
And then, once you have one through three down, worry about maintaining proper positionals.
Also more commonly known as your off-Global Cooldown (oGCD) skills, these are the most important part of your rotational parity as a Dragoon. Once you have your GCD skeleton laid out, you overlay the oGCD rotation on top of it to form the full rotation.
Lance Charge is the strongest buff in your arsenal.
You should always press this button as soon as it’s available.
Dragon Sight gives the same damage boost as Lance Charge, but less frequently. To maximize its effectiveness, you also need to target a party member (usually the fellow melee DPS - Reaper, Samurai, Ninja or Monk) to give them a damage buff, as well. There are a few different ways to handle this mentioned further in the guide.
Battle Litany is a powerful raid buff that enhances everyone’s critical hit rate. As it shares a timer with Dragon Sight, the two should generally be paired together, with Battle Litany coming second, due to its shortened duration.
Life Surge forces your next Weaponskill to automatically land a critical hit. The effect does not apply to damage-over-time effects, which means we tend to use it on either Heavens’ Thrust or the fifth hit of our single-target combos, assuming we hit the positional. The two charges we can stock of Life Surge make it so that we generally only ever use it paired with our other buffs, to maximize its usage. Very rarely will you be in danger of over-capping your charges outside of a buff window.
Tinctures of Strength (currently the Grade 6 Tincture of Strength) can be used as an additional 30s damage buff in combat. They are weaker (potency-wise) than our other main buff options, but they exist in addition to them. These are in no way necessary to use in order to play this game, and are simply an additional option, should you enjoy fully min/maxing your damage. They are always optimal to use.
Basic Buff Rotation
Our buffs fall on timers that function pretty well together in the duration of an encounter. Generally speaking, every six minutes our three buffs should automatically re-align. Talking in seconds, our buffs should align like so:
Dragon Sight is a pain in the ass. We all know it. It’s not going anywhere, though, so let’s just get that out of the way and move on to how to mitigate this logistical nightmare of a party-targeted ability. You must be close to your target to apply and maintain their buff. Once applied, your buff stays no matter how far off to Narnia they go. While you can use it without a target, but are you really that selfish? Can you afford to be? This all being said, the best ways to handle using it vary based on playstyle.
If you play on mouse/keyboard, we recommend using a Mouseover () macro. If you play on a gamepad/controller, you can simply use Soft targeting (up/down on d-pad).
Different macro options are listed below, with pros/cons explained after.
/merror off /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /micon "Dragon Sight"
Will simply place the tether onto your mouseover target. Just hover your mouse over the proper player in the party list and press the button and you cast it on the proper player. Optimal macro to use with mouse and keyboard.
/merror off /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <mo> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /micon "Dragon Sight"
Mixes left with right to create a macro that would prioritize your mouseover target, but default to your preferred party list position/member. Useful if you don’t trust your ability to mouseover, but you should really just practice that and shift to the mouseover one instead, eventually.
One Specific Ally
/merror off /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /ac "Dragon Sight" <2> /micon "Dragon Sight"
Specifically targets whoever is at position 2. The number or party list can be altered as needed. Rather inflexible in use, but very consistent in execution.
For controller, I recommend learning to soft-target and dropping all reliance on macros. For keyboard/mouse, I recommend 1-3 specific ally macros for reliable friends and a mouseover as a backup (or primary, your call).
In addition, you should tend to err on the side of tethering your melee partners, as you can guarantee with more certainty that they will be in range when it’s time to cast. Expecting the same out of a ranged partner is just setting yourself up for loneliness and despair.
In addition to buffs, Dragoon is inundated with off-GCD attacking abilities that form the core of the rotation outside the GCD backbone.
High Jump is your most frequently-used oGCD action. Every 30s, you need to be pressing it like clockwork to activate Dive Ready, which allows use of Mirage Dive. Mirage Dive strengthens the gaze of the First Brood, unlocking your Life of the Dragon window, which is our strongest burst window.
Spineshatter Dive is a simple oGCD damage skill that simultaneously acts as a quick and effective means for movement. With 2 charges, now, some encounters may find interesting uses for it where you can hold a single charge for a period of rapid boss movement to chase more accurately and efficiently than Elusive Jump allows.
Dragonfire Dive is the biggest area-of-effect skill we have access to, besides Stardiver. In single-target, you still use it whenever it’s available, however, since it doesn’t stop doing damage when there’s only one target.
Wyrmwind Thrust is just a strong oGCD action you should be using whenever possible. It has slight flexibility within its 5-GCD window, so it doesn’t tend to have as high priority as High Jump or Dragonfire Dive, which have strict cooldowns. You ideally have this fall under buffs whenever possible without sacrificing charges.
Geirskogul and its relationship with High Jump form the basis of the overall oGCD rotation for Dragoon. This dictates when and where you will enter your Life cycles and how well those cycles will sync up with your above-mentioned buff rotations. As you will see, in the Opener, we use Geirskogul before High Jump, so that we always skip entering Life on the in-between, un-buffed actions, saving it for our on-minute buff windows.
After using a pair of Mirage Dives, you will enter Life of the Dragon on your next cast of Geirskogul that deals damage. Entering Life turns Geirskogul into Nastrond and unlocks the ability to use Stardiver, as well. Over the following 30 seconds, you can use three Nastronds and one Stardiver, but beyond that, they can be shifted somewhat freely to adjust to mechanics and buffs.
Nastrond is a strong line attack that is essentially a direct upgrade to Geirskogul. You should just burn it as soon as it’s available while Life of the Dragon is active and aim to never use fewer than 3 within one cycle.
Stardiver has an excessively long animation lock. Even with the lowest possible ping and perfect server ticks, you will clip when weaving this alongside any other action, so I strongly recommend you just don’t try it. That said, you always have a full 30 second window of leeway to use it, so pick the best possible spot. It is our single strongest hit at 620 potency, so it should still take priority of getting under buffs over anything else.
Buff Windows x Life Cycle
To properly explain how the Life Cycles line up with the buffs, I’ll present a simplified version of our oGCD rotation as it lines up in general. We receive the second eye between buff windows but by intentionally using Geirskogul before High Jump we postpone the Life of the Dragon entry by 30 seconds. This is commonly called a “life delay” and is done to align our life windows with our buffs.
If your target would die before you can fully use this delayed life you want to wait with using Geirskogul until after High Jump and Mirage Dive to enter life right away. Remember: Additional uses > Buff alignment
I know a lot of you have skipped ahead to this section, since you feel like you have a solid grasp on the fundamentals, and I think that’s great! The primary use of the Opener is to prepare your cooldown alignment for the rest of the encounter. With our new Job design, it’s possible that we’ll actually have fight-specific openers down the stretch.
In certain encounters, we may shuffle the location of certain buttons contained within, in order to enable different things with respect to the particular encounter’s timing. Early Spineshatter Dive may be useful for some encounters for movement, while early High Jump may be useful for others to eke out an additional use prior to phasing.
During fights or dungeons, you may find yourself encountering a situation where you are coming up against a boss with resources already in the tank. This shuffles your opener around and makes things harder to manage. Thankfully, there are a finite amount of permutations for these resources to hit you. We’ll be covering here the situations where you have every oGCD action ready to go (at full charges) along with some stocked Mirage Dive activations (eyes) and/or stocked charges for Wyrmwind Thrust (scales).
Images coming soon!
Multiple Target Situations
When you have more than one target to attack, your backbone GCD rotation changes.
When up against two targets, you drop the Heavens’ Thrust combo and just double down on the Chaotic Spring combo, alternating targets to maintain both damage-over-time effects.
|Target One||Target Two|
Three or More Targets
Once you have three or more, you should cycle through your Coerthan Torment combo and eschew all others. It applies Power Surge for you and deals more damage against three targets than the above rotation would, while also giving more frequent casts of Wyrmwind Thrust.
You ideally want to also keep all of your other area-of-effect attacks rolling as often as possible in these situations, as well, and keep in mind that Life Surge does work on Coerthan Torment, to force a critical hit on every target all at once. Make sure to prioritize High Jump the same as always to get into Life of the Dragon quickly, as Nastrond and Stardiver are two of your strongest multi-target actions.
Due to the slight buff of Determination with Endwalker it is now preferable to have slightly more Determination than Direct Hit. However you do not want to neglect Direct Hit completely.
- Item Level- maximize Strength and Weapon Damage first.
- Critical Hit Rate > Determination = Direct Hit Rate > Skill Speed
We want to go as slow as possible, but reducing Skill Speed does not matter nearly as much as maximizing your main stat.
I recommend you use the gear comparison tool to actually get a better idea of how melds affect your DPS!
Check out (the BiS page)[/jobs/melee/dragoon/best-in-slot/] for the current BiS Dragoon gear sets.