Introduction to Gunbreaker
Gunbreaker (GNB) is the fourth tank added to Final Fantasy XIV in the Shadowbringers expansion. It features high damage output and high casts-per-minute. GNB also features a strong defensive kit that, when used properly, can bring a lot of mitigation to the table. Let’s get started with a brief overview of the skills and abilities available to GNB.
Torael Valdis | Jenova (NA) | Torael_Valdis#8120
Skills and Abilities
Offensive On Global Cool Down Abilities
The first skill of our basic combo. 200 potency.
The second skill of our basic combo. 300 potency when used after Keen Edge. Heals for 200 potency and gives a shield equal to the amount healed.
The final skill of our basic combo. 400 potency when used after Brutal Shell. Generates one Cartridge in the Powder Gauge.
500 potency attack that consumes one Cartridge.
450 potency attack that consumes one Cartridge. 30 second base cooldown that is reduced by skill speed (discussed later). Triggers Ready To Rip.
550 potency attack that can only be used following Gnashing Fang. Triggers Ready To Tear.
650 potency attack that can only be used following Savage Claw. Triggers Ready To Gouge.
300 potency attack that applies a 90 potency Damage over Time (DoT) for 30 seconds (900 potency total from the DoT). 60 second base cooldown that is reduced by skill speed (discussed later).
Ranged attack skill with a potency of 150 and a range of 15y.
First skill of our Area of Effect (AoE) combo. 150 potency to all targets in a 5y circle centered around you.
Second skill of our AoE combo. 250 potency to all targets in a 5y circle around you when used after Demon Slice. Generates one Cartridge in the Powder Gauge.
Consumes one Cartridge. 320 potency to all targets in a 5y circle around you.
Offensive Off Global Cooldown Abilities
Turns into Jugular Rip, Abdomen Tear, or Eye Gouge when under the effect of Ready To Rip, Ready To Tear, or Ready To Gouge respectively.
260 potency attack. Can only be used under Ready To Rip triggered by Gnashing Fang.
280 potency attack. Can only be used under Ready To Tear triggered by Savage Claw.
300 potency attack. Can only be used under Ready To Gouge triggered by Wicked Talon.
350 potency attack with a 30 second cooldown. Becomes Blasting Zone at level 80.
800 potency attack with a 30 second cooldown.
200 potency attack to all targets in a 5y circle around you. Also applies a 90 potency DoT for 15s to all targets hit by the initial attack (for a total of 450 potency per target from the DoT).
200 potency attack that dashes you to the target. Has 2 charges that regenerate at a rate of 1 charge every 30 seconds. 15y range.
20% damage increase for 20 seconds. 60 second cooldown.
Immediately gives 2 Cartridges in the Powder Gauge. 90 second cooldown.
Defensive Off Global Cool Down Abilities
200 potency Heal over Time (HoT) for 18 seconds. 1200 potency heal total. 60 second cooldown. Can be used on self or a target party member in a 30y range.
Reduces damage taken by 10% for 20 seconds. Gives +50% parry rate (for a total of 60% parry rate) for 20 seconds. Parry only works on physical damage and reduces damage by 15% when it applies. [The 10% damage reduction applies regardless of if the attack is physical or magical.]
Reduces damage taken by 30% for 15 seconds. 120 second cooldown.
Heart of Stone
Reduces damage taken by 15% for seven seconds. Can be used on self or a target party member in a 30y range. If used on a party member, any existing Brutal Shell shield will be copied onto them. (i.e. if you have 4000 shield from Brutal Shell when you use it on them, they now have 4000 shield as well.)
Sets your HP to 1 and makes you unable to take damage from most attacks for 8 seconds. 360 second cooldown.
Role action. Reduces damage taken by 20% for 20 seconds. 90 second cooldown.
Role action. Makes you immune to most knockback or draw-in effects for 6 seconds. Applies a 20% slow to enemies that attack you while Arm’s Length is active (This means enemies will attack you 20% slower, very useful for dungeons!). 120s cooldown.
Utility Off Global Cool Down Abilities
Heart of Light
Reduces magic damage taken by 10% for self and party members in a 15y radius around you for 15 seconds. 90 second cooldown.
Role action. Reduces damage dealt by all enemies in a 5y circle around you by 10% for 10 seconds. 60 second cooldown.
Role action. Stuns a target for five seconds. Enemies that get stunned repeatedly will develop stun immunity. 25s cooldown.
Role action. Cancels a target’s cast (if it is an interruptible cast). 30 second cooldown.
Tank stance. While toggled on, applies a 10x enmity modifier to all abilities.
Role action. Puts you at the top of the enmity list and gives 2000 potency worth of additional enmity (20,000 if Royal Guard is active).
Role action. Transfers 25% of your enmity to a target party member. This effect applies to all enemies on your aggro table.
GNB has three combos. The Solid Barrel combo, Demon Slaughter combo, and Gnashing Fang combo.
If you are unfamiliar with combo based classes in FFXIV, the game has a handy system to show you what combo skill to hit next. A dotted yellow outline will appear around the next skill in the combo. You have 15 seconds (or about 5 GCDs) to hit the next combo action before the combo deactivates (breaks). Using any other GCD ability will break combos as well, with some exceptions.
|Keen Edge->||Brutal Shell->||Solid Barrel|
Solid Barrel combo is our single target combo. Builds one Cartridge.
|Demon Slice->||Demon Slaughter|
Demon Slaughter combo is our 2+ target AoE combo. Builds one Cartridge. We will talk about when to use Solid Barrel combo vs Demon Slaughter combo in the next section.
Gnashing Fang -> Jugular Rip -> Savage Claw -> Abdomen Tear -> Wicked Talon -> Eye Gouge
Gnashing Fang combo is our Cartridge spender combo. It does high damage and is a very important part of our burst. Note: Jugular Rip, Abdomen Tear, and Eye Gouge must be used after Gnashing Fang, Savage Claw, and Wicked Talon respectively or the buff that lets them be used will be lost.
What Does/Doesn’t Break Combos
Combos are broken when using non-combo GCDs before the combo is finished. However, there are several skills on GNB that do not interrupt combos.
The Gnashing Fang combo does not interrupt any other combos. However, using any Solid Barrel or Demon Slaughter combo GCDs will interrupt the Gnashing Fang combo.
Burst Strike, Fated Circle, and Sonic Break do not interrupt any combos. Lightning Shot interrupts all three of our combos.
The following images are a visual representation of the previous paragraph, made by Rin Karigani. Please note Keen Edge combo and Solid Barrel combo are two names for the same thing.
AoE or Single Target
This section will only talk about AoE vs Single Target at level 80. If you are not yet level 80, please refer to the Leveling Guide for a breakdown of what you should be doing at each level bracket.
For one target present, we use Solid Barrel combo and Burst Strike. For 2+ targets: Demon Slaughter combo and Fated Circle.
Continue to use the Gnashing Fang combo on cooldown until there are 4+ targets. At 4+ you should ignore the Gnashing Fang combo and only use the Demon Slaughter combo and Fated Circle.
Use No Mercy on cooldown regardless of how many targets you have. Whether or not Sonic Break is useful in multi-target fights will depend on how long it will be on the target as well as the number of targets. Whether or not to use it will be a case-by-case basis. At somewhere around 5+ targets, it likely will be a loss to use regardless.
No Mercy Windows
Always try to enter No Mercy with two Cartridges ready when possible. At any normal skill speed, there should always be nine GCDs within the No Mercy buff. These buff windows should look similar to the opener and should always contain the following skills:
- Sonic Break
- Gnashing Fang, Savage Claw, Wicked Talon
- 2 Burst Strikes
- Keen Edge, Brutal Shell, and Solid Barrel
- Blasting Zone
- Bow Shock
- 2 Rough Divides
- Jugular Rip, Abdomen Tear, Eye Gouge
When Bloodfest is ready inside No Mercy, it creates an opportunity for a stronger burst window that will occur every three minutes, allowing for three or four Burst Strikes instead of only two. Since we get more Burst Strikes, but we can only fit nine GCDs under the buff still, we have one or two fewer Solid Barrel combo GCDs compared to a regular No Mercy window. This means the following skills are in No Mercy when Bloodfest is ready:
GCDs: Sonic Break
- Gnashing Fang, Savage Claw, Wicked Talon
- Two Solid Barrel combo GCDs and three Burst Strikes OR
- One Solid Barrel combo GCDs and four Burst Strikes
- Blasting Zone
- Bow Shock
- Two Rough Divides
- Jugular Rip, Abdomen Tear, Eye Gouge
Getting four Burst Strikes in No Mercy is only possible if No Mercy is ready after Brutal Shell, and you already have two Cartridges ready to go. Do not hold No Mercy until after Brutal Shell to force a four Burst Strike No Mercy window! Doing so will cause you to misalign from raid buffs, which over time will be a much bigger loss than the gain of getting four Burst Strikes instead of three.
If you are unable to fit nine GCDs in No Mercy, make sure that you are pressing No Mercy at approximately ⅔’s of the way into the GCD clock as shown here:
Bloodfest should not be held for the next No Mercy window. Because it has a cooldown of 90s and No Mercy has a cooldown of 60s, Bloodfest will naturally be inside No Mercy every three minutes. As Bloodfest’s cooldown is getting close to finishing, spend Cartridges to avoid delaying Bloodfest or overcapping on Cartridges.
Cartridges should generally not be used outside of No Mercy unless they are being used for Gnashing Fang, if you would otherwise overcap on Cartridges, or fight specific optimizations such as hitting multiple targets with Fated Circle. Doing this helps to ensure that No Mercy is entered with two Cartridges ready.
Openers are designed to do a few very important things:
- Get abilities on cooldown as soon as possible. This keeps us from sitting on skills that are ready which could potentially cause lost uses.
- Get strong abilities under raid buffs. This helps to maximize damage done. More damage is always better, especially when it’s free!
- Set up our rotation for the rest of the fight (or until a transition/extended period of downtime). This is especially important for fight specific optimizations and using the right opener may gain a use of important abilities like the Gnashing Fang combo.
The theoretical standard opener for a full-uptime encounter is the 4th GCD No Mercy opener: (Graphic by Rin Karigani)
At higher levels of gameplay, you can and should adjust your opener based on your group composition and the specifics of the fight.
Because openers will change tier-to-tier and fight-to-fight, please refer to the #gnb_resources channel in The Balance for the most up-to-date openers.
Previous GNB guides have thought of the rotation in terms of a 60s/three minute loop. In practice, the GNB rotation is much less a loop and more of a priority system. GNB is more accurately an “if X is ready, do X, else do Y” class. Therefore, after the opener the rotation priority is as follows (with one caveat, mentioned following the priority list):
- Use No Mercy on cooldown.
- Use Gnashing Fang, Sonic Break, Blasting Zone, Bow Shock, Bloodfest on cooldown.
- Spend all Cartridges inside No Mercy where possible.
- Use Rough Divide twice inside No Mercy (unless a use is needed for uptime)
- Outside of No Mercy, only spend Cartridges on Gnashing Fang or if you would otherwise overcap on Cartridges.
- Use Solid Barrel combo on 1 target, Demon Slaughter combo on 2+ targets if nothing higher on the priority is available.
- Since Gnashing Fang and Sonic Break have their cooldown reduced by skill speed, we need to delay them by one GCD every minute by adding a filler GCD. Otherwise they will end up being before No Mercy which is a significant loss.
Because GNB is more of a priority system than a strict rotation, the rotation is very flexible and can be adjusted to the needs of the encounter and group composition.
GCD uptime refers to pressing your weapon skills (GCDs) as soon as they are available. If there are spaces between when your GCD is ready and when you press the next one, you will lose a significant amount of damage. As such, we aim to keep our GCDs rolling as much as possible. Please note, this only refers to when an enemy is present. It is possible to achieve a minimum of 96% uptime in every fight. Anything lower than that is almost guaranteed to be caused by not playing correctly. How to increase this number around mechanics that normally seem like they should cause downtime is a fight specific optimization and will vary fight to fight. Even if you are making mistakes, it is almost always better to keep your GCD rolling than to just not do anything.
A big part of GCD uptime for GNB comes from being able to move bosses during heavy burst windows. Since the Gnashing Fang combo must be followed by Continuation, which is a melee range skill, it can make moving the boss during this window frustrating. Some common ways to alleviate this frustration are:
- Sprint! The faster you move, the faster the boss moves to you. Just be careful not to go too fast so you don’t rip the boss out of the range of melee dps.
- Take advantage of the ability to use Burst Strike between Gnashing combo GCDs. This will give you an extra GCD with no required weaves to move faster.
- Press the GCD, move out, then move back in before the next GCD is ready so you have enough time to use Continuation without delaying the next GCD. There are two ways to do this. For example, you could:
Gnashing Fang, run out, run back in, Jugular Rip, Savage Claw, run out, run back in, Abdomen Tear, Wicked Talon, run out, run back in, Eye Gouge, etc. Or Gnashing Fang, Jugular Rip, run out, run back in, Savage Claw, Abdomen Tear, run out, run back in, Wicked Talon, Eye Gouge, run out, run back in, etc.
How you approach this will largely be personal preference as well as fight specific optimization. Do what gets the best results for you. You should also ask your co-tank if they can handle moving the boss if it makes it easier on you, and doesn’t make it harder on everyone else!
While leveling, or while trying to get to the item level cap, always prioritize item level over stats, regardless of what those stats are [note, Normal Quality white items break this rule as they are exceptionally bad 99.999% of the time. Other than that, this model holds true]. There is a very common misconception that Tenacity should be avoided at all costs, but this is incorrect. It is not a useless stat, it is just less efficient at increasing damage than other stats are, which is why we will almost never meld Tenacity.
Preferred Skill Speed
GNB is very flexible and as such can make use of a variety of skill speeds with relative ease. Typically, GNB prefers speeds between 2.40 and 2.43. 2.40 in the past was viewed as a sort of baseline for the optimal speed, but in practice this doesn’t hold true unless there are fight-specific reasons to favor 2.40 over any of the other speeds.
Preferred speed will depend mainly on fight alignment/transitions and your ping, as well as gearing options available. Higher ping players will prefer slower speeds because there is more time to be able to double weave between GCDs. Faster speeds are only typically preferred if they gain meaningful GCDs in a fight, or if gearing options mean that a faster speed is just going to have better damage overall.
Our basic priority system for materia melding is Critical Hit, then Skill Speed (to preferred tier only), then Direct Hit. We may use a different meld here and there that breaks the mold of this priority system, but it is very rare and will likely only be one meld, such as a Determination meld instead of a Direct hit meld due to stat tiering.
This guide would not be possible without the advice and peer review of Hopps, Rin, Ari, Sila, and the other members of the Balance tank community who took the time to read this and give feedback.