Here you’ll learn all there is to know about Black Mage and the dark arts of making everyone else do mechanics for you.
Welcome to how to play Black Mage in Final Fantasy XIV, make yourself comfortable because we’re in for a long one here. If you’ve spent any amount of time around the Final Fantasy XIV community, you’ll know the following: Black Mages don’t move, they do a lot of damage and they have a skill ceiling so high, Heaven on High is laughable compared to it.
So why would anyone play a job with long casting times, no mobility, and lackluster party utility? Numbers. Black Mage mains play a different kind of game, all that matters to them are the big explosions with the big numbers popping up on the screen. That’s the reason why many of them suffer from tunnel vision and eventually die or get regularly Rescued out of their Leylines by an angry healer.
But a good Black Mage at your party? That’s a magical experience, you’ll see them perfectly position themselves for every mechanic and happily slide cast perfectly without dropping their rotation once. You could be one of those Black Mages.. with the help of this Guide!
The Black Mage is among the most iconic jobs in Final Fantasy. It made its debut appearance in the very first title and has popped up in some shape or form in every entry since then. Its most memorable inclusions came with characters like Vivi from Final Fantasy IX and Lulu from Final Fantasy X.
Black Mages practice Black Magic, the art of pulling aether from the world around them to weave them into terrible spells of destruction. It is in some ways the other side of the coin to White Mages and their White Magic.
Black Magic was famously practiced by the mages of Mhach in the Fifth Astral Era. Obsessive research by a Mhachi mage called Shatotto led to an uncontrolled evolution in the art and signaled the rise of Mhach as a superpower. This would eventually lead to the War of Magi which pitted black and white magic against each other and would end with the great flood of the Sixth Umbral Calamity.
Today, both black and white magic is banned by most city-states of Eorzea, and the inner workings of both arts are kept behind locked doors. Especially black magic has the potential to destroy entire cities as well as consume its use altogether. But we can still find hints of it in the Ul’dahn thaumaturgy in where it is used in traditional burial procedures.
From Thaumaturge to Black Mage
If you’re set to become a Black Mage, you first need to pick up the Thaumaturge class. You can either pick it up when you’re creating your character, which will start you off in Ul’dah or can pick up the quest ‘Way of the Thaumaturge’ from Yayake in the Steps of Nald in Ul’dah. From here on you have to complete the Thaumaturge questline and reach level 30 to continue.
At level 30 you’ll be able to pick up the quest ‘Taking the Black’ by Yayake in the Steps of Nald and unlock the Black Mage job and jobstone. You’re of course highly encouraged to complete the entire questline as you’re leveling. Completing the Black Mage job quests does not only unlock equipment and extra EXP, but it also rewards you with new gear at certain intervals.
Black Mage 101
On paper, Black Mage’s rotation is incredibly simple and very versatile. Everything revolves around how often you can cast Fire IV and Despair. And once all your MP is gone, you simply switch to casting Blizzard to regenerate, make sure your damage over time effect is always on the boss, and once your MP is full, you go back to spamming Fire IV.
What makes Black Mage interesting to play, is learning the ins and outs of its abilities and understanding when and where to use them. While other jobs boil down to, doing your rotation, doing the mechanics, and try not to die. For a Black Mage fights turn more into a puzzle.
A great Black Mage knows exactly when to hold off on abilities for mobility and how to preposition for every single mechanic. An excellent one can simply react to mechanics without breaking a sweat or dropping a single cast.
When it comes to the job meter, Black Mage luckily already starts out with one and only adds more things on top of it as the job develops. First, you’ll only have to deal with your Astral Fire and Umbral Ice stances until you later get resources that you have to spend and weave. It looks and sounds way more complicated than it ends up being.
Black Mage Utility
There is none. Absolutely nothing. The only thing you have that could count as Utility is Addle which is a damage debuff every DPS caster gets. It reduces physical damage by 5% and magical damage by 10% for 10 seconds. Best used when one of the big party-wide damage spells goes off. Make sure to coordinate with your team for the best usage.
Before we go over your basic rotations, we’ll explain some of the tools in your kit and where best to use them. Since Black Mage doesn’t have much of a set rotation. Instead, you are encouraged to use everything at your disposal to navigate the encounter without ever dropping a cast or wasting one of your high-damage spells.
Let’s talk about Xenoglossy first, Enochian is a passive damage bonus you get whenever you’re under the effect of Astral Fire or Umbral Ice. Enochain will generate a Polyglot stack, of which you can hold up to 2. These generate every 30 seconds and allow you to cast Xenoglossy (for single target) and Foul (for multitarget.) Both these spells deal high amounts of damage with no cast time and no MP cost. This means they’ll also allow you to move around freely.
Then there is Thunder III. Thunder III is your damage-over-time spell that should always be maintained. You’ll have to refresh it every 30 seconds and it has the chance to trigger an effect that lets you cast the next Thunder III spell without any MP cost. Ideally, you want to pair this with Sharpcast to guarantee the proc.
There are also your Ley Lines. Ley Lines is a temporary buff that decreases your recast time as well as your cast time. It’s the closest thing the Black Mage has to a burst phase. While it lasts for 30 seconds, it’s important to know that you have to stay within your Ley Lines to benefit from their effect. This means you’ll have to coordinate it with the phase of the fight as well as the time it with partywide buff windows.
You also have Manafont and Lucid Dreaming. While the Black Mage doesn’t really have to bother with MP management the same way other casters do, these two are a great way to get out an extra Fire IV until you’ll eventually burn out of MP. There is no right timing to use them in your rotation, as once again that’s very dependent on the encounter but you should definitely try to use both on cooldown as much as possible.
Black Mage is special here since you have a rotation for two targets and one for three targets and more. We’ll cover the rotation for three targets first and adjust it for the two-target rotation after.
You start off with High Blizzard II, then use Freeze to get 3 Umbral Hearts as well as nullify the cost for your upcoming Fire spells. But first, you apply your damage-over-time effect with Thunder IV. Now you can cast High Fire II, you cast that one three times. Now you can use Triplecast to get Flare out quickly and if you weave Manafont, you can cast a third one. Cast Foul as your Polygot stacks come up.
For two targets, use cast Blizzard II, then Freeze, then apply Thunder III to both targets. Now cast Fire III three times in a row and if you have Triplecast or Swiftcast available, cast Flare. If not just use Despair instead. Here you can also use Manaward to get an additional cast out. And use your Polygot stacks to cast Foul.
Here is what your basic rotation is supposed to look like. Don’t forget that you can always adjust and change it on the fly as needed.
Cast Blizzard III, for the Umbral Ice stance, then Blizzard IV for Umbral Heart. Now you should be able to cast Paradox which triggers Firestarter, this allows you to cast Fire III instantly at no MP cost at all. Now cast Fire III to get the Astral Fire III stance which will allow you to cast Fire IV. Cast Fire IV three times, cast Paradox again and can cast Fire IV another three times, and finish up with Despair.
Keep in mind that Thunder III as well as Xenoglossy have no set place in this rotation. Technically you should be able to squeeze them in anywhere. And it doesn’t even matter if you use them under the effect of Ley Lines.
Just make sure to keep Thunder III on the boss. To make sure the effect triggers as much as possible, keep using Sharpcast for it as often as possible. And if you find yourself sitting on a charge of Sharpcast, use it on your next Paradox to ensure a Firestarter proc.
Let’s talk about a proper opener then. Make sure you’ll have at least 15 seconds on the pull timer to pull this off properly.
Use Sharpcast around 12 seconds before the pull, then precast Fire III about 4 seconds before the pull to hit right after the tank grabs aggro. Next cast Thunder III and weave Triplecast. Now you get to start your Fire IV cast phase, this will require a lot of weaving.
Cast the first Fire IV, use a tincture here if you have one. Now cast your second Fire IV and weave Amplifier and Ley Lines. Cast the third Fire IV and weave Swiftcast, before you cast the fourth Fire IV and weave Triplecast. Next use Despair, weave Manafont, cast Fire IV again, and weave Sharpcast. Now you can cast Despair again, change to Umbral Ice by casting Blizzard III, and cast your first Xenoglossy. Now use Paradox, Blizzard IV, and refresh DoTs with Thunder III.
Your burst is a little difficult to describe on Black Mage. You are on a very linear rotation that you can and have to adjust depending on the current phase of the fight. Generally, most damage buffs tend to last around 15-30 seconds and come up every 120 seconds.
For you, around that time Ley Lines and Amplifier come back up. With Ley Lines and getting the timing right, you should be able to squeeze three Xenoglossy casts and three Fire IV casts into this window. If you use Triplecast (on the Fire IVs) in that window as well, you should also be able to squeeze in a Despair cast.
Try to coordinate this with your party if you can, I found it very useful to have a callout when there is one minute till party buffs come up.
Black Mage is neither the most versatile nor the most flexible job in Final Fantasy XIV. Playing it in Savage and especially Ultimate encounters is really hard since you not only learn and remember mechanics. You have to plan your entire rotation around them. So you’ll have to make an extra effort here and get your party to use strategies that have you move as less as possible.
Then it comes to melding and overall gear recommendations, it comes down to personal preference. A high Spell Speed lets you squeeze out more damage and gives you more opportunities to move. Meanwhile, a higher crit build ‘can’ if you’re lucky reward you with an even higher damage output while sacrificing some mobility.
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