Leveling Guide for Dancer (DNC)
Written by: Ringabel Dim
This information on this page is to give useful tips to help you as you are leveling DNC. This guide will focus on which skills and abilities are available to you in each level range, and will indicate at which levels you get actions that affect your rotation and how they affect it.
First of all, the gear you get from the quest unlocking DNC is not the best gear you can wear on DNC at level 60. Specifically, the weapon (iLvl 255 High Steel Chakrams) is of normal quality from the quest instead of high quality making it significantly worse due to missing weapon damage. You can buy an entire iLvl 270 gearset for level 60 DNC for 3775 tomestones of poetics. If upgrading pieces incrementally, the simplest strategy is to upgrade the Weapon first and then your lowest iLvl gear pieces next.
The best daily roulettes for obtaining poetics are Normal Raid, Alliance Raid, Main Scenario, and Level 50/60/70/80 Dungeons.
At level 70 and level 80, you’ll be able to purchase gearsets for those levels using poetics (iLvl 400 for level 70, iLvl 530 for level 80). Note: you can use the Menphina’s Earring from Endwalker pre-order if you have it for the 60 and 70 sets.
All of these poetics gearsets do a good job helping you through each set of 10 levels. You can get slightly better gear pieces as you level through the leveling dungeons and craftable gear pieces. (Note: it is strongly recommended to use high quality crafted pieces as opposed to normal quality crafted pieces due to normal quality pieces missing a significant amount of stats).
For some content, your gear level will not matter (such as Deep Dungeon - Heaven on High, PVP, or Bozja). However, if doing dungeons, duty roulettes, or open world content (such as FATEs and Beast Tribe quests) to level, it will be important to keep your gear relatively up to date for ease of completing the content as well as for considerations for the other members of the duties you may be queueing for.
Melding: If you can afford to, putting melds on your gear is a good way to boost your DPS while leveling. Full melds vs. no melds can be a difference of approximately 4-5% DPS. When melding, you’ll generally want to meld the highest rank materia available for that iLvl and for DNC prioritize Crit > DH >= DET melds while leveling (i.e. if that stat would cap if you were to meld the highest materia rank, go to the next best stat). You will never want to meld skill speed for DNC since it is the stat that gives us the least gains to our damage (for more info see the advanced guide).
Know your Role
As a physical ranged DPS, your job is to do as much damage as possible while staying alive and not doing anything that would make your other party members do more work. Physical Ranged DPS are very mobile which means you can keep full uptime hitting your enemies while not losing any damage from moving around to dodge mechanics (however, you should make sure you stay in range of your healers so you don’t miss any heals they may be casting).
Physical Range DPS Limit Break is a line shaped area of effect (AoE) action that shoots out in front of you towards your specified target. It will hit all enemies who are in that AoE, making it very good for dungeon trash pulls with multiple enemies. If there is no melee in your party, it can also be used on Boss fights to do a small amount of damage (although not as strong as a melee limit break on single target).
Additionally, DNC has some utility actions as part of their kit, including Physical Ranged DPS role actions:
Physical Ranged Role Actions
Peloton - Increases movement speed outside of combat for self and nearby party members, last 30 seconds with a five second cooldown, basically use this outside of combat in dungeons to help everyone move faster through the dungeon. You can have 100% Peloton uptime while out of combat.
Second Wind - A 120 second cooldown small self-heal which can potentially save your life if you find yourself somewhat low in health before a mechanic.
Head Graze - 40 second cooldown interrupt, which can interrupt certain enemies’ mechanics. Most dungeons don’t have a mechanic that can be interrupted. Interruptible cast bars will be red and shaking.
Leg Graze - Applies a slowing effect; only really serves a purpose in solo content.
Foot Graze - Applies a bind; only really serves a purpose in solo content.
Arm’s Length - 120 sec cooldown, six seconds of knockback immunity to self (mostly for niche boss fights that have knockback mechanics, so you can keep yourself from moving).
DNC Specific Utility Actions
Curing Waltz - Small AoE heal on yourself and your dance partner. AoE heal effect stacks (i.e. if you stand on top of your dance partner and use Curing Waltz, everyone in that small AoE will receive two heals). Curing Waltz has a 60 second cooldown and is useful for keeping yourself alive. It can even be used to give the tank a small little heal if it is safe to stand on top of them.
Shield Samba - 10% damage reduction for self and all nearby allies for 15 sec. 120 second cooldown (90 sec cooldown with the level 88 trait). For leveling content, it’s free and helpful mitigation you can provide for the party or even just the tank on large dungeon pulls.
Improvisation (Level 80) - 120 sec cooldown, channeled ability, small AoE regen heal, can use Improvised Finish which ends Improvisation and grants and shield to self and nearby party members. Generally not worth it to continue channeling while in combat but can flash it (i.e. press Improvisation and then immediately use Improvised Finish) to grant the party a quick small shield without losing any damage.
General Dancer Rotation for all Levels
A couple of key points while playing DNC at all levels:
- Use Standard Step off cooldown. Not only does this ability grant you and your Dance Partner a damage buff, it is one of your hardest hitting abilities. It is a 30 second cooldown and can be executed by initiating Standard Step and then pressing the two dance steps in the order they appear and then completing the dance sequence with Standard Finish. Altogether this dance takes five seconds to complete. During downtime in dungeons, you can prepare Standard Step outside of combat and then use it within 15 seconds of initiating the Standard Step sequence. This will help increase your damage by doing the dance steps (which don’t do any damage) outside of combat.
- For single target situations, use Cascade → Fountain as your main combo weapon skills. For situations where there are two or more targets, use Windmill → Bladeshower as your main combo weapon skills (which are both five yalm radius AoEs around you). In AoE situations, it tends to be a loss to use Standard Finish when there are four or more targets (except to refresh the %damage buff).
- Cascade or Windmill have a 50% chance of granting you a “Silken Symmetry” proc, which you can use on Reverse Cascade (for single target situations) or Rising Windmill (for situations with two or more targets).
- Fountain or Bladeshower have a 50% chance of granting you a “Silken Flow” proc, which you can use on Fountainfall (for single target situations) or Bloodshower (for situations with two or more targets).
- Use your proc weaponskills before using the base combo weaponskills that have a chance of generating that proc (otherwise you risk losing the opportunity of that combo weaponskill generating the proc). For example, if you have a “Silken Symmetry” proc, you should use Reverse Cascade before using Cascade.
- Your proc weaponskills have a 50% chance of generating a Fourfold Feather which allows you to use either Fan Dance (which should only be used on single target situations) or Fan Dance II (which should only be used when there are two or more targets that can get hit in a 5y radius around you). These are both abilities that can be weaved on the oGCD (meaning you can use Fan Dance while waiting for your GCD to come back to use your next weaponskill).
- If you have four Fourfold Feathers (the maximum amount you can carry) you will want to use a feather before you use a proc weaponskill otherwise you lose the potential of gaining a Feather from that weaponskill.
DNC unlocks at level 60. However, there are times where you may queue for content that syncs your level to below level 60. If that is the case, the general rotation might change based on which actions you have available (for example Fan Dance II is only available at level 50 or above, so if you are below level 50, you’d use your Fourfold Fans on just the single target Fan Dance since that is all that is available to you).
At level 60, DNC gains “Closed Position” which grants the “Dance Partner” buff to a party member of your choice. In a dungeon setting, you will generally want to put the buff on the other DPS player, even if they are also a DNC (the 5% damage buff from Standard Finish will stack in this way). For more information regarding Closed Position and Dance Partner, you can check out the “Dance Partner section” of the Advanced Guide.
At level 62, DNC gains “Devilment” which grants 20% crit rate and 20% direct hit rate for 20 seconds for yourself and your Dance Partner (120 sec cooldown). You will generally want to keep this off cooldown and even use it for large trash pulls in dungeons. This gives a significant boost to your damage during the duration, that you will want to start considering saving Fourfold Feathers to use under Devilment (keep in mind you should still use a Feather if you are at four and are about to use a proc weaponskill).
At level 66, DNC gains “Fan Dance III”. Using Fan Dance or Fan Dance II will have a 50% chance to grant a proc of “Flourishing Fan Dance” which is consumed by using Fan Dance III. It does damage on the selected target plus additional AoE damage on enemy targets that are in a radius around your target. Fan Dance III should be used for both single target and AoE situations. You should use Fan Dance III before using Fan Dance or Fan Dance II otherwise there is a chance you will miss the opportunity to use the Flourishing Fan Dance proc that could have been generated from Fan Dance or Fan Dance II.
NOTE: Very important!! In order to unlock the level 70 DNC action, you must complete the level 70 DNC quest “Save the Last Dance for Me.”
At level 70, DNC gains Technical Step. This is a four step dance that is on a 120 sec cooldown. Technical Finish does a very high amount of damage and gives an additional 5% damage buff for 20 sec to yourself and all nearby party members (in a 15y radius). Since this is a party buff as well as a high potency action, it should be kept off cooldown as much as possible. Since Devilment is also a 120 sec cooldown, these two actions should always be used together. You will want to weave Devilment right after using Technical Finish in almost all scenarios to gain the multiplicative gains from stacking these raid buffs. Technical Step and Devilment should be used in both single target and AoE situations. While Technical Finish and Devilment buffs are active, you should still be using the Standard Step action as Standard Finish does a large amount of potency that can be boosted under these buffs.
At level 72, DNC gains Flourish. This ability is on a 60 sec cooldown. It grants the Flourishing Symmetry, Flourishing Flow, and Flourishing Fan Dance buffs which allow access to Reverse Cascade / Rising Windmill, Fountainfall / Bloodshower, and Fan Dance III. It should be used off cooldown as much as possible. It can also be used out of combat as long as you will be using the procs before they expire (procs lasts 30 seconds). In an ideal world where nothing drifts, you can use it before using Technical Step, so the sequence of actions would look like (Flourish → Technical Step → Technical Finish → Devilment → Proc weaponskills etc…).
These “Flourishing” procs can be active at the same time as the “Silken” procs from your normal combo GCDs, but the game will always prioritize consuming the “Silken” proc.
At level 76, DNC gains Saber Dance and the Esprit gauge. Esprit is a resource that will start generating over the course of the fight by your own actions and the actions of those who are benefitting from your buffs. The DNC will generate 5 Esprit for every Cascade, Fountain, Reverse Cascade, or Fountainfall (or their AoE weaponskill counterparts) they execute. Whenever your Dance Partner with the Standard Finish buff executes a weaponskill or spell, they have ~20% chance to generate 10 Esprit for you. Whenever a party member with the Technical Finish buff executes a weaponskill or spell, they also have ~20% chance to generate 10 Esprit for you. You can hold a maximum of 100 Esprit.
Saber Dance costs 50 Esprit to execute and is a very powerful weaponskill that does major damage on your primary target as well as additional damage to all nearby targets. It is your strongest weaponskill in both single target and AoE target situations. You will want to save Esprit as much as possible for your Technical Finish / Devilment burst windows since it does a lot of damage. However, you want to make sure you use Saber Dance when you are >= 80 Esprit otherwise you risk losing some Esprit by overcapping if you and your dance partner happen to generate Esprit at the same exact time.
At level 80, DNC gains Improvisation. This does not affect your rotation, but is purely a party utility action that provides an AoE regen heal as well as a small damage barrier shield for yourself and nearby party members (see earlier section on utility).
At level 82, DNC gains Tillana. Tillana is a dance finishing move that is available after using Technical Finish. Tillana can be used anytime within 30 seconds of using Technical Finish. Because it does not require doing any dance steps, it is a very powerful move for just a 1.5 sec action. It will also refresh the duration of your Standard Finish buff (in most circumstances, this effect will go unnoticed since Standard Finish already reapplies the buff as you are using that off cooldown). The optimal time to use it under most circumstances is while under the Devilment buff sometime between Technical Finish and before using Standard Step while under the effect of Technical Finish. Using it after Standard Finish can cause issues with Standard Step drifting.
At level 84, DNC gains a trait where Reverse Cascade, Fountainfall, Rising Windmill, and Bloodshower (your weaponskill procs) generate 10 Esprit instead of 5, which allows for Saber Dance to be used more often.
At level 86, Flourish grants DNC an extra proc called “Fourfold Fan Dance” which gives access to the ability “Fan Dance IV”. This ability is an extra oGCD ability that does a conal AoE towards your target and any other targets in that cone doing primary damage to the first target while all other targets receive 50% damage. This ability should be used in both single target and AoE situations.
At level 90, when using Devilment, it grants you a proc called “Flourishing Starfall Dance” which grants access to the weaponskill Starfall Dance. This action does a massive amount of damage and is guaranteed to crit and direct hit. It does damage in a line towards your target, doing primary damage to your main target while all other targets are hit for 25% of the damage. It is worthwhile to use in both single target and AoE situations. Since the proc lasts 30 seconds and Devilment lasts 20 seconds and since the action itself cannot benefit from the +crit% and +DH% chances provided by Devilment, Starfall Dance will only be a DPS gain to use under the Devilment buff if there are raid buffs that increase %damage such as Trick Attack (from Ninja), Divination (from Astrologian), Embolden (from Red Mage), etc… otherwise you would want to wait for Devilment to wear off before using Starfall Dance. For more information about this, check out the Advanced Guide section regarding Starfall Dance.