Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Preview

BRD – You might want to sit down

So…  Where to begin? Bard is in a great spot right now, because of the amazing utility that it brings while keeping some of the highest DPS in the game. The rub is, it had to be completely changed to do so. The inclusion of The Wanderer’s Minuet was controversial. All of a sudden Bards had to stand still and cast, which means they had to deal with all of the downsides of being a caster, while also having to have good party awareness to pick the right song timings, and even cleanse the Warrior every once in a while. Good news ARR Bards, you can move again! Bad news, you’ve got some learning to do.

The biggest change is to the mechanics of songs. Army’s Peon, Mage’s Ballad and The Wanderer’s Minuet have been completely reworked. They’re all now stance-like and have a 2% critical hit rate buff and last 30 seconds with an 80 second cooldown. In addition, they react to your DoTs renamed as Caustic Bite and Stormbite, in different ways. Army’s Paeon grants stacks of Repertoire upon each DoT crit that increase the Bard’s damage dealt, weaponskill cast time, recast time, and auto-attack delay by 4% which stacks up to 16%. Mage’s Ballad now has the traditional Bloodletter and Rain of Death procs on DoT crit. The Wanderer’s Minuet functions like the others but upon a DoT crit, you proc the ability to use Pitch Perfect, a new off-GCD attack that delivers an attack that has variable potency depending on the number of stacks you had when you unleash it. It goes from 100 potency at one stack all the way up to 420 potency at three stacks. Because of the duration of each song, and the recast of 80 seconds, it seems as though Bard’s will be rotating songs throughout a fight in a set order. The last piece of the song puzzle is a new trait that immediately triggers the special effects (gaining stacks, or Bloodletter procs) of any song if you cast Empyreal Arrow during it. Because Empyreal Arrow has a 15 second cooldown it will be optimal to trigger this twice during any song while keeping your stacks from capping out.

These songs also interact with another new ability called Troubadour. This is the “flute skill” that has sparked a lot of conversation. When you use Troubadour, you trigger a party survivability buff depending on your current song, for the entire duration of said song. Mage’s Ballad adds a 15% Maximum HP buff to all allies, Army’s Paeon reduces the party’s physical vulnerability by 10%, and Wanderer’s Minuet reduces Magic Vulnerability by the same amount. As Troubadour is on a very long 3-minute cooldown it seems that Bard’s will have to think about the optimal time and optimal effect for a certain phase of a fight. Battle voice returns as a 3-minute cooldown that increases the direct hit rate of all party members under the effect of your songs by 15% for 20 seconds.  Which seems very strong, but will we have to see where direct hit ends up in the hierarchy of secondary stats. “What about Foes?”, you ask? Well Foe Requiem is now a 3% enemy damage dealt debuff that drains MP as it used to. I weep for the Bard-Caster synergy.

Bard is all about songs, however they did receive a couple new abilities. The first is a new name for an old effect. Nature’s Minne is a single target Mantra. This ability increases the HP recovery via healing magic by 20% for 15 seconds on a 45 second cooldown. An interesting bit of utility, to be sure, and will most likely be a tank’s best friend… Or maybe that one person in your static that ends up with weakness all the time! Lastly, they get Refulgent Arrow. This is an off-GCD weaponskill with a potency of 300 that procs while under the effect of Straighter Shot. This is probably a replacement for Bloodletter due to the fact that it now only procs under the effect of Mage’s Ballad. Because of MP and TP regen being moved to the role based action set as Refresh and Tactician, Bard had to change. Now more Bard-like than ever before, the focus is on finding the optimal rotation of songs for a fight and keeping all of their effects straight in your head!

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