Bard Basic Guide
Guide Info
Last Updated: 13 Dec, 2021
Patch Applicable: 6.0

Welcome to the Basics Guide for Bard! Whether you’re a fresh level 90, a returning player, or just need a refresher, this guide will get you started and help you feel comfortable.

This is a basic introduction to level 90 Bard. It will not go into many nuances, optimizations, or topics outside of playing the job in battle.

If you’re looking for such information, you may find it in one of the dedicated guides below:

(Note: These pages will be added or updated over time.)

Playstyle

As a Bard, you won’t have a set rotation. Instead, Bard skill usage is based on what’s available and/or what your timers are at a given moment.

The core of this is a set of three songs you’ll cycle through. Each song has an effect that has an 80% chance to occur every three seconds.

Note: Something with a random chance to occur is commonly called a “proc”, and will be mentioned throughout this guide.

Between songs, procs, and its pair of damage over time (DoT) debuffs, Bard can feel like it has a lot to keep an eye on. But with practice, you’ll get the hang of it.


Core Concepts

Burst Shot Refulgent Arrow

Always Be Casting!!

As with any job in FFXIV, the biggest part of being a good Bard is to keep your global cooldown (GCD) rolling.

As a physical job, Bard’s GCD skills - skills that share a 2.5 second base cooldown - are called Weaponskills. Everything else is an Ability with its own independent cooldown. Such skills are often called oGCDs.

Normally, you have enough time between GCD skills to use two oGCD skills. If you aren’t already, get used to the pattern of (GCD - up to two oGCDs - GCD - up to two oGCDs - GCD - etc.).

Also, note that you can press a GCD skill a little in advance, and it will fire as soon as possible. Use this fact to make sure your global cooldown never stops spinning.

Positioning

As a Ranged DPS, you have full freedom of movement. You can make use of this to give the party space for mechanics, keep yourself out of harm’s way, and so on.

However - Try to stay at a medium to close distance by default. Party heals (and buffs!) have a range, and you want those to reach you. If you die because you were too far away and missed a heal, that’s your fault, not the healers'.


Rotation - Single Target

Bard is a priority-based kit. Both your GCD (global cooldown) skills and oGCD (off-global cooldown) skills each have their own priorities to follow.

“Priority-based” means that you don’t have a skill rotation. Instead, you use your best GCD available, followed by your (up to) two best oGCDs available, repeating for every GCD.

It looks like a lot, but you don’t need to absorb all of this at once; it’s okay to work things in little by little.

GCD Priority

Stormbite Caustic Bite Iron Jaws

 

Refulgent Arrow Apex Arrow Blast Arrow

 

1. Maintain your DoTs.

Keeping your DoTs up is your top priority. If they aren’t applied yet, use Stormbite, then Caustic Bite. Do not use Refulgent in between if it procs, as getting the second DoT up is slightly better.

If your DoTs are up, but they’re about to fall off (3s or less remaining), use Iron Jaws to re-apply them.

2. Use proc GCDs.

If your Soul Gauge is full, go ahead and Apex Arrow. Otherwise use Refulgent Arrow or Blast Arrow if available.

3. Burst Shot.

If none of the above are true, fire off Burst Shots until you have something better to do with your GCDs.

 

oGCD Priority

The Wanderer’s Minuet Mage’s Ballad Army’s Paeon

 

Raging Strikes Battle Voice Radiant Finale

 

Pitch Perfect Bloodletter

 

Empyreal Arrow Barrage Sidewinder

 

1. Always have a song running.

If you don’t have a song up, get one up! See Song Order for details.

2. Use your buffs.

Every two minutes, you’ll have Raging Strikes, Battle Voice and Radiant Finale. You want to be using these in tandem, with Raging Strikes one or two GCDs before the other two.

This stack of buffs is a huge part of what you bring to the party as a Bard. They’re key to your own damage output, and make for a very large boost to party burst damage.

3. Use your song’s proc skill if needed.

In The Wanderer’s Minuet, this will be a three-stack Pitch Perfect. In Mage’s Ballad, use Bloodletter often enough to make sure you don’t fill up and start wasting procs.

4. Keep on top of Empyreal Arrow.

Consistently using Empyreal Arrow on time is very valuable. Unless there’s a risk of wasting the automatic proc it gives, use it as soon as you can.

5. Other oGCDs

Use Barrage and Sidewinder during the two-minute buff stack. For Sidewinder, that means using it on time in the in between minutes as well.

Be careful not to use Barrage if you have a Refulgent Arrow already. Barrage gives you that proc automatically, and you don’t want to waste that freebie.

As a charged action Bloodletter is generally lower priority, so long as you aren’t at risk of capping the charges.

 

Song Cycle

Bard has three main songs that form the backbone of your kit: The Wanderer’s Minuet (WM), Mage’s Ballad (MB), and Army’s Paeon (AP).

Each song gives a small (but always-on) buff to the party, and has an 80% chance to trigger an effect every three seconds. The timing aligns with the song timer - procs can occur at 42 seconds on the timer, 39 seconds and so on.

So, you should always have one of your three songs running while in combat. Because the last proc chance happens at three seconds left, feel free to move on to the next song as soon as the timer reads three or less.

Song Order

43s 34s 43s
The Wanderer’s Minuet
Mage’s Ballad
Army’s Paeon

 

The Wanderer’s Minuet is our strongest song by far, which is why we use it first.

Mage’s Ballad is slightly weaker than a four-stack Army’s Paeon. But it has no ‘warm up’ period, and a better party buff to for 60-second skills. So, we use MB second even if we spend less time in it.

All told, you want to use your songs in a two minute cycle. Roughly 43 seconds of WM, 34 seconds of MB, then 43 seconds of AP.

In terms of song timer, that means leaving each song at 2-3s left, 11-12s left, and 2-3s left respectively. For AP, in practice you’ll simply leave once WM is off cooldown.

The Wanderer’s Minuet

The Wanderer’s Minuet Pitch Perfect

 

In WM, procs give you up to three stacks that you spend on Pitch Perfect. Try to use PP at three stacks, but two stacks is okay if you’re worried about Empyreal Arrow + a proc overflowing you.

You have three seconds between proc chances, so you should never need to delay your GCD to get Pitch Perfect off. It’s fine to simply use it in the next available oGCD slot.

Mage’s Ballad

Mage’s Ballad Bloodletter

 

While in MB, each proc restores half of a charge of Bloodletter. BL’s normal 15-second cooldown keeps running too, plus you have Empyreal Arrow procs. So the charges can fill up faster than you’d think - but if you keep using BL when able you’ll be fine.

Army’s Paeon

Army’s Paeon

AP makes your GCD and auto-attacks up to 16% faster as you get procs. This can feel unimpressive, but it does add up.

Make sure to stay on top of the GCD as its pace accelerates. It’s easy to lose damage by being out of rhythm. Also, try not to double weave at full stacks, as that’s likely to cut into your next GCD.

 

Opener

This should be your go-to for starting a single target fight:

Bard Level 90 6.00 Opener

Use Bloodletters and three stack Pitch Perfects as able (they aren’t displayed here).

If Refulgent Arrow is available when you would Barrage, use Sidewinder instead, then Barrage after spending the RA proc.

It’s worth dumping any Pitch Perfect stacks you have (even just one) before buffs run out. That’s what the PP after Iron Jaws is for.

In text form:

  • Stormbite
    • The Wanderer’s Minuet
    • Raging Strikes
  • Caustic Bite
    • Empyreal Arrow
    • Bloodletter
  • Burst Shot / Refulgent Arrow
    • Radiant Finale
    • Battle Voice
  • Burst Shot / Refulgent Arrow
    • Barrage / Sidewinder
  • Burst Shot / Refulgent Arrow
    • Barrage / Sidewinder
  • Burst Shot / Refulgent Arrow
    • (open)
  • Burst Shot / Refulgent Arrow
    • (open)
  • Burst Shot / Refulgent Arrow
    • Empyreal Arrow
  • Iron Jaws
    • Pitch Perfect

Two-minute burst

After the opener, you’ll have a large burst window at the start of Wanderer’s Minuet every two minutes. There’s a lot of related bits to cover, so check out the Advanced Guide for details on how best to handle this window.


Rotation - AoE / Dungeons

Core GCDs

Ladonsbite Shadowbite

 

Bard’s AoE core is much like its single target. Ladonsbite and Shadowbite play the role of Burst Shot and Refulgent Arrow, respectively.

While enemies are gathering, go ahead and drop some Stormbites on them for free damage. Once you can start hitting everything with Ladonsbite / Shadowbite, swap to using those.

Songs and Cooldowns

Keep your songs running during dungeon packs as normal. It’s fine to have songs rolling between packs too; you’ll still get procs and gauge outside of combat.

Don’t be afraid to use your two minute buffs on packs either. But unlike with Refulgent Arrow, Barrage will not proc Shadowbite for you. You have to wait for Shadowbite to trigger first.

Apex Arrow Blast Arrow

 

For Apex Arrow and Blast Arrow, there’s normally not much of a difference between using Apex at 80 vs. 100 gauge. You can mostly just use it whenever you want.

But if there’s a mob with a lot more HP than the others, try to use Apex at 80 gauge and target your Blast Arrow at that enemy. The “first enemy” that takes 600p from Blast Arrow is whichever one you’re targeting. You can use this to help even out mob HP.

Targeting

Bard has a lot of single target damage that can go out during AoE. You have Empyreal Arrow, Sidewinder, at times Pitch Perfect, and Blast Arrow’s 600p hit. You want to try to get those on the higher HP enemies.

Meanwhile, Shadowbite and Rain of Death want you to be targeting something in the center of the pack. You might need to target a farther enemy to line up Apex Arrow too. In short, be ready to change targets often.


Notable Utility

Damage Buffs

Raging Strikes Battle Voice Radiant Finale

 

Battle Voice - One of two party-wide damage buffs. You should try to be using this on cooldown. Most jobs have damage spikes on 120-second timers, so you want to land your buff on those.

Radiant Finale - Though its cooldown is 110 seconds, in most cases you’ll use RF every 120 seconds alongside Battle Voice. It’s only worth 2% damage in the opener, but after that it will be 6%.

Raging Strikes - A simple but meaty damage increase. You want this to be running alongside your party-wide buffs.

Defense / Support

Troubadour

Troubadour - Simply enough, try to use this when the party is going to take a lot of damage. In harder content, your healers should be able to tell you when they want it. If they haven’t, make the best guesses you can.

Nature’s Minne

Nature’s Minne - This increases all healing received. That includes any shields that are based on a potency. Nature’s Minne has a lot of good uses:

  • Helping when healers need to single heal more than just the tank.
  • Putting it on the tank on big dungeon pulls.
  • Coordinating with a Scholar to buff an Adloquium + Deployment Tactics.
  • Using it on yourself when you make a mistake or miss a heal.

The Warden’s Paean

The Warden’s Paean - Cleanses any debuff with a little white bar over the icon. These don’t appear often at endgame, but keep an eye out anyway. In most cases, Warden’s can even prevent a debuff in advance.

Second Wind

Second Wind - A simple self-heal. It’s useful for solo play, and also if you need more healing than the rest of your party for any reason.

Arm’s Length

Arm’s Length - Canceling a knockback can be useful sometimes, so have this ready on your hotbar. Note that there are a few knockback mechanics that ignore it.

Head Graze

Head Graze - Cancels enemy casts that have a shaking red bar. Most things you’re expected to cancel will have long cast times. Don’t worry about hitting quick casts like spell attacks from sprites.

Repelling Shot

Repelling Shot - This is never necessary, but sometimes it can make a dodge a little more comfortable.

Peloton

Peloton - Only usable out of combat, but speeds the party up a bit from one pull to the next. Good for getting commendations sometimes.

Leg Graze Foot Graze

 

Leg Graze, Foot Graze - It has been several years since these have been useful in endgame group content. They’re handy sometimes in solo-friendly content if you need to kite or run away. That’s about it though.


Credits

Sana Cetonis [Mateus] - Primary author

Verzell Varion [Adamantoise] - Theorycrafter

Yumiya Nagatsuki [Behemoth] - Theorycrafter

Elya Kura [Ragnarok] - Theorycrafter

Stephia Deleva [Goblin] - Contributor

  • Have any questions?
    Authors
    Sana Cetonis
    Cetonis#8918
    Verzell Varion
    infinitestory#6021
    Balance BRD Staff
    ‏‏‎ ‎
  • 26 Oct, 2021
    Created page
    13 Dec, 2021
    Updated for 6.00