Dragoons: A Rotation Reborn
EDIT @ 9/11/2013: Due to the sheer number of questions in this thread and other Dragoon threads, I’ve added a section for new Dragoons and sub-50′s, it’s at the end of the rotation discussion. I would also like to thank EasyModeX and xyaie for their contributions to this thread.
EDIT @ 9/18/2013: Added a small section on Fracture to the end of the second post about DoTs and buffs
EDIT @ 9/25/2013: Updated stat weights
New players are starting to hit 50 and there have been a lot of posts on these and other forums I frequent about how to manage the Dragoon’s wide scale of abilities and off-GCD moves. I am not a legacy player, but I have a long history with MMO’s and I always love trying to figure out how best to manage my role. Every post I’ve seen on the dragoon rotation involves a lot of questions, and very few answers, so I thought I would try my best to provide some.
First thing I want to note is that some people will take issue with my use of the term “rotation” since FFXIV works more with priority as it is difficult to maintain a large amount of uptime on most raid/dungeon bosses due to boss movement or having to switch to adds. However, as you get used to mechanics and boss movement you do get enough active time on almost all bosses to execute the full compliment of dragoon abilities.
Second, the dragoon rotation is extremely complicated. All told our primary rotation can use up to 9 main abilities and 7 off-GCD abilities, along with 3 other main abilities (AE+slow) and 6 other off-GCD abilities that we can use depending on the situation. So at any given moment in a fight a dragoon is attempting to choose between 25 different things that they could be doing. While this gives the dragoon a complex playstyle, it’s also why I love it. There is nothing a dragoon doesn’t have an answer for…unless you Jump when AE is about to drop, then you’re screwed. Also, if you get everything just right our dps can be extraordinary.
The dragoon rotation is built around maintaining your buffs and debuffs. Heavy Thrust (HT) provides a 10% damage buff when used from the flank (unless you have one of those tanks that doesn’t like sitting still for some reason), and Disembowel (Dis) provides a -10% piercing resistance debuff when used after an Impulse Drive (ID) from behind. These must be maintained to ensure maximum dps. This already provides the first part of the dragoon rotation:
HT-ID-Dis-Chaos Thrust (CT)
Heavy Thrust is used first since you’ll receive a damage boost over more abilities than you would if you started with ID-Dis-CT.
Now that both of your 10% abilities have been applied, what do you do? Well you could just spam the ID-Dis-CT combo, in pure potency this is a 180-220-160/200=760 potency rotation, however you must remember that the DoT portion of CT has already been applied. That means spamming ID-Dis-CT after the CT DoT has been applied is actually only a 180-220-160=560 potency combo. Your other option is to switch to a True Thrust (TT) – Vorpal Thrust (VT) – Full Thrust (FT) combo. Though on paper this is a 150-200-300=650 potency combination compared to the 760 of ID-Dis-CT, since the CT DoT has already been applied in our rotation then the TT-VT-FT combo is actually much higher damage than spamming ID-Dis-CT.
Now you have the next part of your rotation, which we can add onto the previous moves:
So far so good.
What else must we consider? For the moment, let us postpone the discussion of Phlebotomize/Fracture vs. not using them and just assume we are using both DoT’s, I will revisit this discussion later. If you want to use these abilities, where do they best fit into your current rotation? This is the point where the true rotation management begins. HT provides a 20s buff, while Dis and CT provide 30s debuffs. Your life as a dragoon now revolves around ensuring the consistent reapplication of these abilities, while maximizing your free time in between. This means if you continue using a HT-ID-Dis-CT rotation you will waste the extra 10s provided by the difference between their buff durations. Since Phlebotomize/Fracture (Ph/Fr) both apply 20s DoTs, for the purposes of maintaining a healthy rotation and maximizing your free time between applications it is best to stick them directly after HT as the DoTs and 10% from HT have the same duration. You might be losing a small amount of potency by initially using them before the application of the Disembowel and Chaos Thrust debuffs, but it keeps your rotation clean since now you have to reapply HT, Fr and Ph at the same time. Your new rotation is:
Now that we’ve dealt with the simple stuff, let’s get to business.
It Get’s Complicated
Due to the difference in duration of your HT/Ph/Fr and ID-Dis-CT applications, if you use only the above rotation you will eventually begin to overwrite buffs before they were due to expire. To maximize your dps you must only reapply your 10% HT/Dis buff right before it expires, and your Ph/Fr/CT DoTs right after they fall off. This is almost impossible to do perfectly, but there are some rules of thumb to help. (1) after the application of HT/Ph/FR, you have 8 abilities before you need to reapply them. This is easy enough to calculate (20s / 2.5s GCD = 8), or try it out for yourself and see. Even with extra skill speed this works out to be pretty accurate due to some lost time due to movement/mechanics. Your 30s debuffs give you a 12 ability gap before their reapplication (30s / 2.5 GCD = 12). Again, this holds true in practice and not just on paper. With this in mind, you will end up with a staggered application of the 20s and 30s abilities since they have a differing number of ability gaps between.
So let’s build our full dragoon rotation, starting with what we have previously built:
By the end of the rotation we have used 8 abilities, so now both HT and Fr/Ph need to be reapplied.
But it has only been 7 moves since our last application of Dis/CT, so we have some free time. We’ve already assessed that the best thing to do with free time is TT-VT-FT, so let’s do that.
Now it has been 10 moves. But remember you have to use ID prior to Dis/CT, so it will bring us up to 11 moves, in perfect timing for the reapplication of our 30s debuffs.
It has again been 8 moves since our last HT-Fr-Ph, so we reapply.
But we’re still not back at the start of the rotation since we have some free time until the reapplication of ID-Dis-CT. And how do we fill free time?
And still 3 moves until we must reapply HT-Fr-Ph, what conveniently takes 3 moves?
It has now been 8 moves since the last application of HT, and 10 moves since our last application of Disembowel. This finally brings us back to the beginning of the rotation since now both the 20s HT/Ph/Fr abilities and 30s ID-Dis-CT abilities must be reapplied in the order they occurred at the start of the rotation. There is a couple seconds of downtime of both Disembowel and Chaos Thrust, but life cannot be perfect.
The full dragoon rotation is therefore #7.
A non-repeating sequence of 27 moves. Isn’t dragoon life grand? Here’s a helpful graphic posted on the second page of this thread made by o0sky0o for those who like visuals:
Dragoon Rotation - http://i.imgur.com/lfuKVZl.png
Here’s my crappy flow diagram to show that the thought process of the rotation isn’t actually that bad once you’ve practiced, just a rotating cycle of 3-move sets.
Flow Diagram - http://i.imgur.com/u5JCxVz.png
This Isn’t Even My Final Form
We’ve got our primary ability rotation down, now let’s make our lives worse by talking about off-GCD abilities. They are as follows: Blood for Blood (BFB), Internal Release (IR), Life Surge (LS), Power Surge (PS), Jump, Leg Sweep (Sweep), Mercy Stroke (MS). I do not like including Dragonfire Dive (DFD) or Spineshatter Dive (SD) in the off-GCD rotation since they are your best positioning abilities. If you need to get to an add and back to the boss quickly you can use them to cut down movement and maximize your dps uptime. There are also fights where the extra stun from SD comes in handy (e.g. Amdapor Keep).
Off-GCD abilities are best used in between your other abilities. For example, after using Heavy Thrust, during the 2.5 GCD, you can Leg Sweep before the GCD comes up for your next ability. There are two problems that screw this up. First, you cannot use more than one off-GCD ability in between two main abilities without sacrificing dps. This is the design of the game so far, it ain’t our fault, we just deal with it. Second, you have to spam the crap out of the abilities to get them to work. Frequently the ability won’t actually go off until around the final second of your GCD, and hitting the ability in the initial 1.5s won’t do anything, so get used to keyboard smashing. Let’s take our main ability rotation:
Now add the off-GCD abilites.
Plus Mercy Stroke soon as the mob hits 20%. The order of off-GCD abilites will never be the same in any two main ability rotations as they have widely differing cooldowns. The only thing you need to worry about is keeping them on cooldown at all times. Sometimes you’ll want to save one or two (such as Leg Sweep for stuns or BFB/LS for bursting an add), but in general they should all be on cooldown. Also a quick note to Jump, it is worth the 0.5s dps loss to the animation to get the extra 200 potency attack, so feel free to use it anyway even when PS is on cooldown.
This ended up being quite long, and I’ll discuss the issue of using Phlebotomize and Fracture another time. To make an eventual long story short just use them both for now until people have a better understanding of the -10% piercing resistance debuff.
The dragoon job is fiendishly complicated, but mastering the combination of buff/debuff timers and off-GCD cooldowns will cause you to transcend to the holy plane of dps glory. Also you’ll spend ages optimizing your hotbars so you can keep track of all this crap (EDIT: I have a post on the third page that might help if anyone is having hotbar issues). Enjoy!
I Think My Jump Is Broken…
So you’re leveling up a Lancer/Dragoon and you’re trying to plan out your future. Sadly, you are going to be disappointed. Visions of flying through the air fill every baby Dragoon’s head, leaping onto enemies then escaping quickly to safety, or jumping into the air to avoid those pesky ground AE attacks that every single enemy uses. Then you hit 30, get your Jump…and it kind of sucks ass. It does about as much damage as any regular ability might do, it doesn’t protect you from anything, and you realize that to use it you basically stun yourself for 1.5s to hit the mob once.
But, before we get too deep into the Dragoon nitty gritty, let us start from the beginning. Everyone has 30 stat points to spend by the time they hit 50, and you want to know where to put yours. The following weights (provided by EasyModeX on page 22) will help you both in choosing how to spend your stat points, and when selecting which piece of gear to wear. Here are the relative stat weightings for Dragoons:
Weapon Damage: 7.54
Skill Speed: .146
This sets strength as the baseline value of 1, and compares the rest of the stats to this baseline. Obviously weapon damage is the most valuable, coming out at 7 times the value of strength, followed by determination, then crit and skill speed. So for example, if you have to sacrifice 4 points of strength to obtain 15 points of skill speed, all you need to do is multiply 15*0.146=2.19 to see that 15 skill speed is really only worth 2.19 points of strength and so it is not worth the lost strength to switch gear.
A Dragoon’s primary function is damage and, other than weapon damage, this primarily flows from our Strength stat. So when you are leveling up, every single stat point that doesn’t go into strength is just weakening your primary function. Therefore, once you hit 50 you should have plugged every single stat bonus into strength. That solves the stat issues, let’s move onto the specifics of the Dragoon job.
Lancer’s can utilize a wide range of abilities (resurrection, damage buffs, crit buffs, etc) and it is difficult to give up this utility. If we are going to do so, we want it to be for a good reason since Dragoons can only pull from the Pugilist and Marauder classes. People have been asking which cross-class abilities are the most important. This will vary by player, but there are three that you must always have since they boost your damage: (1) Fracture, (2) Internal Release, and (3) Mercy Stroke. Everything else is personal choice. I like to run with Second Wind and Bloodbath, but it’s really not a massive deal which abilities you fill your other two slots with.
Now, let’s deal with the argument of “I feel like I do more damage as a Lancer instead of as a Dragoon because of Archer buffs”. The following information comes from EasyModeX on page 13:For most rotations the potency-per-second actually dropped by using Straight Shot, because the buff is actually pretty weak, the attack itself is weak (140, so you need to gain over 60 potency from the buff to match your filler to break even), and using it caused a loss of uptime of other buffs (like Heavy Thrust).
Even if we assume the same PPS for the “LNC” (+SS) and “DRG” rotations, take the next step:
A LNC with 450 STR has a potency coefficient of 126.0. A DRG with 470 has a coefficient of 130.6. That’s roughly a 3.7% increase in damage from the STR. Ref: http://valk.dancing-mad.com/?page_id=179
The Raging Strikes buff is up for 20/180 = 11% of the time, and adds 20% damage. That’s +2.222% average damage.
DRG STR bonus > Raging Strikes (although Raging Strikes is still good for burst damage situations)
Straight Shot is a wash at best (or a DPS loss at worst).
The net result is that the DPS of a DRG is going to be ahead 0-2% of the DPS of a LNC using straight shot … without counting jumps. Jumps aren’t the best DPS increasers in the world, but they do increase DPS.
Edit: Jumps add in the general ballpark of 4% total damage.
There is a lot of information in there, and some of it we haven’t quite dealt with yet, but I didn’t want to quote only the important bits since all abilities should be taken into account. To summarize, the regular Lancer/Dragoon rotation cannot accommodate Straight Shot without sacrificing dps. The added crit is not enough to make up for this loss. In addition, the Dragoon soul gem boosts your strength (the primary damage stat) and this added strength bonus is better than the damage added by Raging Strikes. So, you do not gain any damage by remaining a Lancer and using Archer abilities. You might wish to have the option to resurrect people and so stay Lancer, but that is your choice, you do not remain as a Lancer if you want to do more damage.
Let’s move on to the Jumps. There are four jumping abilities (Jump, Spineshatter Dive (SD), Dragonfire Dive (DFD), and Elusive Jump (EJ)), plus Power Surge (PS) to buff either Jump or SD. Jumps are off-GCD abilities, meaning they can be used anytime you wish to smash the button. While the primary utility of these abilities is underwhelming, as mentioned by EasyModeX above they do increase your dps (including Jump without PS). That is because right after you have used one of your main abilities, while you wait for the 2.4-5s GCD, you can use Jumps to fill these empty gaps with added damage. Even taking the added animation time into account, which does overrun your GCD timer slightly, Jumps are a dps increase.
In addition, the Jumps have so much movement utility that you don’t just gain dps in terms of damage numbers, but the added movement provides you greater damage uptime since you’re cutting down on time spent running around. Also, each Jump has several uses outside of its primary function, here are some examples:
- can quickly attack while standing outside of AE or melee range since it’ll return you to your original position (though be sure to get your timing right or you will get hit by the AE)
- it’s a great “reverse” gap closer since you can use it to quickly attack a distant mob (e.g. a satin plume), then immediately return you back to the boss you were just dpsing, saving you the hassle of running all over the place
Spineshatter Dive / Dragonfire Dive:
- our primary gap closers
- great for tracking pesky moving enemies (since if you jump at a moving target you will follow it until it stops moving or the animation ends)
- they can prevent knockbacks as they will bring you to your target by the conclusion of the animation
- help you cross annoying patches of persistent ground AE
- can also be used as a gap closer if you get a good feel for its distance covered
- crossing ground AE
- can be used for kiting, saving you from having to use sprint
- excellent for dropping aggro since it has bonus enmity reduction (i.e. grab a mob off a healer and face it away, wait for the OT to get second aggro, then elusive jump to pass it off).
These are just a few of the handy tricks I’ve found with the various jumps, they have so much more utility than this. To summarize, as a Dragoon you will do more damage, be more mobile, and have more tools at your disposal to survive. As a Lancer you will have greater cross-class access, but you will slow down your groups progression, and be about as mobile as a fungus. I leave the choice to your discretion!