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Red Mage 101
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Overview
- 3 Red Mage Role Progression
- 4 Races
- 5 Stats, and Other Modifiers
- 6 Skills
- 7 Job Traits
- 8 Spells
- 9 Game Mechanics
- 10 Weaponskills
- 11 Primary Support Jobs
- 12 Other Support Jobs
- 13 Dispel
- 14 Refresh
- 15 Haste
- 16 Convert
This is a guide that originated on the Red Mage forums on Allkahazam, to fill a need for a comprehensive class compendium. It now lives on the BGwiki, to make it more collaborative and community-driven than the original.
Red Mage is one of the few true hybrid classes in FFXI. We can do a little bit of almost everything:
- Melee - B-rated Sword and Dagger skills, and limited access to weaponry. Early in your career, you can melee decently, but effectiveness drops off as you level.
- Healing - Red Mages get up to Cure IV, and the first Regen and Raise spells. Even with /WHM subbed, we cannot heal as well as White Mages (as they get access to Cure V, more -enmity equipment, and the best Regen/Raises, amongst other things). However, later in the game (particularly in experience parties), Red Mages will be called upon to fulfill the role of healer due to Red Mage's lasting power from Convert/Refresh.
- Nuking - We eventually learn up to Tier III elemental magic. As nukers, Red Mages are less effective than Black Mages because of lower Magic Attack bonuses, lower INT, later access to spells, no Tier IV or Ancient Magic, C-rated Elemental skill, etc, but Red Mages are often called for magic bursting on Skillchains.
- Enhancing - We have the highest rating (B+) in Enhancing, but all of the Red Mage innate Enhancing spells (with few exceptions) are self-only. This includes Stoneskin, all bar-element and bar-status spells, Enspells, and Phalanx. (except Phalanx II obtained through merits)
- Enfeebling - This is the Red Mage's specialty. With our A+ Enfeebling skill, we are better suited for landing spell-based enfeebles than any other mage class. Enfeebling the monster is one of the primary roles of a Red Mage throughout their career.
- Refresh and Dispel - These spells deserve their own category, because starting from mid-level, parties will invite you with these two spells in mind. Refresh in particular is a job-defining ability that other jobs don't have access to. This will be covered in more detail later.
Because of our versatility, we are frequently called a "Jack of all Trades" but that title is a little misleading. It's a mistake to think that Red Mages can do everything; you'll never be able to replace a Black Mage or a White Mage on their own turf. Your melee abilities are never going to rival a real DD's. The Red Mage is a generalist, and that's a strength and weakness at the same time.
The function of a Red Mage in party situations is control. When the White Mage is in trouble (being hit, or out of MP), or the Paladin just got hit with a Sickle Slash, we can heal in a pinch. We can magic burst for respectable damage to help a chain. Our spell-based enfeebles are designed to make monsters less dangerous and easier to kill. If they have special defenses, we can dispel them. We have the best natural chance to sleep adds due to our enfeebling skill. With /BLM subbed in a dungeon, Fast Cast or Chainspell will let us bring a party to safety with Escape faster than anyone else. Refresh allows us to give party members MP Regen to stay on their feet, while Convert gives us a source of extra MP for emergencies or extending chains. Essentially, the Red Mage is a support caster. We allow the rest of the party to do their jobs more effectively.
In solo, we can accomplish feats with Phalanx that other jobs can't, such as engaging trains of TW/EPs, while taking hardly any damage. In one on one fights, we use our defensive spells and Refresh to outlast our opponents, slowly burning them down with nukes and/or melee. We're one of the few jobs that is more than a match for Elementals. Since our native abilities give us so much flexibility, we have a greater range of possible subjob choices to solo with; whether we need Utsusemi and Dual Wield, Sidewinder and Accuracy, -aga spells and Warp, Treasure Hunter and Evasion Bonuses, Avatar buffs and Auto-Refresh, Defender and Double Attack, Drain/Aspir and EX Sword weaponskills, etc.
But despite our strengths, we always suffer from being second-rate healers, silver medal nukers, and mediocre damage dealers in general. On top of that, the Red Mage is typically the busiest member of the party by far. It's not uncommon to have a situation where a skillchain is coming, the monster just cast a buff that needs to be dispelled, one of the enfeebles just wore off, and you need to recast Refresh on someone soon. Being a good Red Mage requires a lot of situational awareness, and knowledge of what your party members are capable of. In solo, our ability to outlast our opponents is tempered by the fact that we have low damage output at all levels of play. Basically, being a Red Mage is not for everyone, but having read this overview you should have a fairly good idea of what's in store for you.
Red Mage Role Progression
As a Red Mage, your role in parties will change dramatically over the course of your career. It's important to always be flexible, and adjust your play style to fit the party. Red Mages are basically mages, but you can use your martial skill to good effect at low levels. As always, the situation dictates the appropriate action, but this section ought to give you a good idea of what you can expect as you progress in levels.
- 1-10: At these levels, you will be soloing. Take the time to learn the basics of nuking and healing; experiment with macros. Make use of your sword skill.
- 11-20: Here is where you'll have your first experience with parties. There is usually a lack of White Mages in this level range, so you will often be called on main heal. Your primary purpose is to enfeeble the monsters, whether you are main healing or not. Paralyze and Slow are vital, and Blind and Dia have some importance. At this level, White Mages and Black Mages are almost as good at landing enfeebles as you are, but it's good to get practice. You can particpate in melee if you wish. At this low level you can put out some decent damage numbers by entering combat with an Enspell on (when you get it at level 16) and keeping your sword skill up to date. It is not recommended to melee if you're the primary healer.
- 21-31: At this point, you are starting to pick up useful spells and abilities from your subjob. With Magic Attack Up, your nukes can do significant damage, so encourage your melees to do skillchains, and magic burst whenever possible. /WHM tends to be a popular subjob in this range, because /BLM doesn't offer much utility yet. Starting at 27, you'll begin to pick up pieces of your RSE equipment: if you're not a Taru, it's worth looking into for casting bonuses and +MP. Melee is still possible if you pay attention to your duties. Note the arrival of Divine Seal or Elemental Seal from /WHM and /BLM subjobs at level 30.
- 32-39: At 32, you'll finally get Dispel. It's important to have Dispel ready at 32. Don't level without it. Parties will expect you to have it, and if you fight in places like Crawler's Nest it can make or break XP chains. At this level, some people stop meleeing, because the MP requirements of spells (particularly Dispel) force more resting during combat. /WHM will have Curaga, giving you some added utility for healing AOE damage.
- 40-50: This is where everyone is starting to get their job defining abilities, and Red Mage is no exception. At 40 you'll get Convert, and at 41 comes Refresh. When you get Refresh, your ability to rest in combat will be severely limited (pay close attention to the Refresh section to maximize rest time), and you'll be casting such a huge load of spells that many people opt to give up melee entirely. At level 40 /BLM gets Conserve MP and begins acquiring the various elemental enfeebles, with Aspir coming in at 50, so this is where you start seeing RDM/BLM more often.
- 51-60: At 51 you'll want to start picking up elemental staves and working on your artifact equipment. /SMN and /BRD become viable SJs at level 50 because of Auto-Refresh/Ballad, provided that /WHM and /BLM duties are sufficiently taken care of.
- 61+: By the time you get to this point, you should know Red Mage like the back of your Warlock's Gloves. Players start gaining 30-37 abilities from their subjobs, level 3 skillchains come into play, DDs become incredibly powerful, monsters become more difficult to kill, and TP/manaburns come into play. You'll be expected to balance enfeebling, refreshing, dispelling, backup healing, and nuking. It's beyond the scope of this guide to give you advice on the various party configurations and job/subjob matchups you'll run into, but you should know enough by this point to make the determination on your own.
Allow me to state up front: all races can play Red Mage. In the grand scheme of things, your skill as a player is the most important factor in being a successful Red Mage. Equipment follows second with race a distant third. It's important to understand that the difference in stats is marginal in most cases. For example, it's simply not true that Elvaan can't hit anything because of low racial DEX, or that Mithra/Taru can't deal damage because of lower STR. While DEX does impact accuracy, and STR does impact damage, be wary of exaggeration. With that said, here's a quick run-down of the races.
This is a safe choice for race. Humes share the second-highest MP pool with Mithra, and have average stats across the board. Humes are the most popular racial choice by a fair margin, and the main advantage they offer is being suitable for just about any other job you may take up.
Mithra are identical to Humes, except they have higher AGI/DEX, and lower STR/MND/VIT (and different RSE, of course). The DEX bonus is somewhat substantial, by the time Mithra are 60+ they have around ten more DEX than other races. This is roughly equivalent to +5 accuracy, which is a complete level's worth of Sword/Dagger skill.
Taru have the highest MP pool of all races, and a substantial INT bonus (much like Mithra DEX). At early levels when +MP equipment is scarce, the added Taru MP is extremely useful. Past 41 the Taru MP advantage is smaller because of RSE, Convert, and Refresh, but they still boast the best nuke damage, and can most easily reach a 1:1 HP/MP ratio for perfect Converts. The disadvantage of Taru is the lowest MND/VIT stats (equivalent to Mithra), and the lowest STR of all races by a fair margin. Taru is a good choice if you prefer to be a backline caster. If you choose Taru, don't worry about going it alone: despite lower melee stats, they are still very capable solo artists.
Elvaan have the second-lowest MP pool, and the lowest INT score. The advantage most often touted by Elvaan Red Mages is the fact that they have the highest racial MND by a fair amount, which is important for enfeebling. In addition, they have the highest natural STR and good VIT. However, that is coupled with the worst DEX/AGI of any race. The primary problem Elvaan have is the lack of MP. At early levels it can be difficult, but starting at level 27, Elvaan have access to their RSE. Elvaan RSE has a lot of +MP, and makes up a much of the difference. Despite their disadvantages, there are many Elvaan Red Mages, and you'll be in good company with this race.
Of all the races, Galka is the hardest one to recommend. As far as stats are concerned, they aren't much different than Humes: slightly less INT/AGI, slightly more STR, and a significant VIT advantage (highest of any race). The main issue with Galka is the incredibly low base MP, which will haunt Galka mages throughout their careers. The saving grace is Galka RSE, which provides a huge bonus to MP, and is basically required if you want to be effective. Astral rings starting at level 10 will also be your best friend. As a Galka Red Mage you will have a more difficult job than other races, but rest assured you'll be able to do it with enough effort and equipment.
Stats, and Other Modifiers
This section will give you a quick rundown of the various stats and other modifiers that impact your Red Mage to the extent that they are currently known. It's worth noting that several stats will add additional damage to weaponskills (pointed out in the WS section where applicable). Also, stats ordinarily increase multiple abilities at once in a relatively minor way, so it's generally a good idea to raise the modifier instead of the stat if you're looking for specific bonuses (for example, Accuracy over DEX, +Evasion over AGI, etc).
STR - Raising STR will raise your damage curve, and every two points of STR adds +1 Attack. Mostly we aren't concerned with this stat, but many sword weaponskills add a percentage of your STR to the final total, and since all physical WS's use STR as a primary modifier, it *may* be worthwhile to equip STR equipment in a WS macro.
DEX - Accuracy and critical hit rate. The exact effect of DEX on critical hits is unknown, but we do know that every two points add +1 Accuracy. This is another stat you mostly need not be concerned with. It's usually better to add +Accuracy directly if you need it.
AGI - Evasion, ranged accuracy, parrying, and shield block. AGI also reduces critical hits by an unknown amount. AGI is a decent buy for soloing if you can't find something better for that particular slot (think Drone Earrings and +AGI rings).
VIT - Lowers the overall damage curve. This stat is directly tied to STR, for purposes of damage taken (your VIT) and dealt (monster's VIT). Every two points of VIT adds +1 Defense.
CHR - Nearly worthless stat for us. If you are subbing /BST or /BRD, it may have some limited use on song/charm resists, and +CHR increases the proc rate of "killer" traits, but otherwise don't bother with this.
MND - This is a very important stat, as there are many spells that are directly tied in with it. MND increases the power of Cure spells (up to the soft cap), the Banish line of nukes (for /WHM sub), increases your resistance to White Magic, increases the effectiveness of your own White Magic spells (such as Slow, Silence, Paralyze, etc) and has miscellaneous boosts to spells like Stoneskin. You will be spending a lot of time searching high and low for good +MND items to wear.
INT - Also very important. INT will directly increase the power of your elemental nukes, increase your resistance to Black Magic and increase the effectiveness of your own Black Magic spells (Blind, Gravity, etc). Like MND, you will be always be looking for ways to maximize your INT.
Attack/Defense - Attack is compared directly with Defense. According to the devs, raising attack will increase the chances that you'll hit the high end of your damage limit. In practice, it's been discovered that ATK/DEF acts as a multiplier to your damage. In general, if you want to increase your melee damage output, load up on attack. If you want to lower the damage you take during solo, increase defense.
Accuracy - Accuracy is your chance to hit the monster with melee (also note ranged accuracy), and is compared to the target's evasion. Accuracy has diminishing returns and is capped at 95% (you will never have perfect accuracy).
This is a simple chart that lists the relative stat rankings of all jobs. The rankings range from A (best) to G (worst). Red Mages fall squarely in the middle of most categories, with a slight bias to casting stats. The reason this chart is included is purely for subjob considerations.
WAR MNK WHM BLM RDM THF PLD DRK BST BRD RNG SMN SAM NIN DRG BLU COR PUP HP B A E F D D C C C D E G B D C D D D MP C B D F F A D STR A C D F D D B A D D E F C C B E E E DEX C B F C D A E C C D D E C B D E C B VIT D A D F E D A C D D D F C C C E E D AGI C F E C E B G D F F A D E B D E C C INT F G E A C C G C E D E B D D F E C E MND F D A E C G C G E D D B D G E E E F CHR E E C D D G C G A B E B D F C E E C
Skills are rated (best to worst): A+, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, E, F. The only effect that the rating of a skill has is the skill's cap for a particular level. The +/- designations don't have any effect until level 60. Take note of an excellent skill cap calculator here. Without further ado:
Every spell-based skill is a little different, but they all share one common trait: higher levels of a skill will reduce your chance of being interrupted while casting a spell of that type. It it loosely related to the level of the monster that is hitting you.
Elemental (C+) - Elemental nukes and elemental enfeebles (Burn, Frost, Rasp, etc from /BLM) fall into this category. Your elemental skill is basically just accuracy - the chance of the spell being outright or partially resisted. Because this skill is only C+, it's generally not advisable to free-nuke excessively at higher levels without bonuses from equipment or elemental staves, because resists can be frequent on XP-level monsters. At low levels, the difference between A and C isn't large, and you can nuke as MP permits. At all levels, Red Mages are called on to Magic Burst on skillchains, since MBs get accuracy bonuses.
Healing (C-) - Unlike Elemental, your Healing skill isn't used much for accuracy purposes. Non-offensive Cures (ie: not casting on Undead) won't be resisted. Instead, Healing works with your MND stat to bring Cure spells closer to the soft cap.
Enhancing (B+) - We have the highest enhancing skill of any job, and the skill has some scattered impact. It increases the effectiveness of all Bar-element spells, Bar-status spells, the damage reduction on Phalanx, the total HP damage absorbed of Stoneskin, the maximum duration of Sneak/Invisible, and the damage on Enspells. It has no impact on timed abilities like Regen and Refresh.
Enfeebling (A+) - As has been mentioned, this is our only A+ rated skill, and arguably the most important. Since we are the only job with A+ Enfeebling, we have the best accuracy/potency with Enfeebling spells at all levels of play. This includes Sleep I/II, Slow, Paralyze, Gravity, Dispel, and Blind. Dia I/II are enfeebling spells, but are not resisted no matter the skill level unless an enemy has Magic Shield or is immune to magic damage.
Dark (E) - Natively, the only spells we have that use Dark are Bio I/II, which are unresistable the same way Dia is. The use of dark magic comes with subjobs like BLM or DRK, where we can get Drain, Aspir, or Absorb spells. Typically E-rated skills are unreliable on XP-level mobs, but Drain and Aspir both work on a sliding scale of effectiveness so we can still make good use of them with appropriate equipment.
Divine (E) - Red Mages don't naturally have any spells that use Divine. The only time that this skill is used is when subbing /WHM for use with Banish spells, or at 74+ with /PLD subbed for Flash. Needless to say, that means it's usually not very useful.
Sword (B) - Swords are the only weapons we have available that do serious melee damage. Red Mages don't have access to the heavy-hitting espadons or bastard-sword weapons that WAR/PLD/DRK have available, but we can use all sorts of shortswords, longswords, broadswords, degens, epees, fleurets, rapiers, etc. Swords will do slashing or piercing damage based on the type, so it's important to keep a selection available if you can (a good example is the piercing Royal Guardman's Fleuret, and the slashing Wise Wizard's Anelace). Typically this is your primary way of dealing "free" damage. As is the case with all melee weapons, your skill in Sword determines your accuracy, damage, and access to weaponskills. As a rule of thumb, every point of Sword gives +1 accuracy and +1 attack (+0.9 accuracy past 200 skill or so). Red Mages don't have any EX or SP Sword skills, unfortunately, so our selection of weaponskills is somewhat limited. When soloing with WAR/DRK/PLD/BLU subbed however, we can gain access to Red Lotus Blade, Seraph Blade, and Vorpal Blade, which are all fairly strong WS's in their own right. Red Mages also are able to unlock the quested Sword weaponskill, Savage Blade. Some powerful endgame Swords include: Joyeuse, Martial Anelace and Justice Sword.
Dagger (B) - The selection of daggers available to Red Mages is pretty abysmal at first. We can only use a few dagger class weapons, generally we aren't able to access any knife or kris-type weaponry (the ones that actually deal damage). Red Mages get a few EX Dagger skills - Cyclone and Energy Drain in particular are pretty effective. The real advantage of Dagger comes with the low delay: wielding a dagger that has a 150 swing delay (such as Beestinger, Platoon Dagger, or Hornetneedle) allows you to quickly stack Enspell damage on monsters, as Enspells are hit-based. Daggers are what make us deadly in fights against physical-resistant Elementals, and allows us to deal damage to monsters without giving them TP (in the case of a Beestinger or Ceremonial Dagger). You won't be using this skill often, but you'll be glad you have it at endgame when powerful daggers like Misericorde and Blau Dolch come into play. Once you unlock Evisceration -- the quested Dagger weaponskill -- daggers can be a very good source of damage.
Archery (D) - The D rating of this skill, coupled with the fact that Red Mages can only use shortbows, keeps many people away from Archery. We also don't have access to Archer's Knives, which makes the accuracy problem worse. As a result, you aren't going to see much use for this in an XP party. The real advantage of Archery is in solo, where we can actually land shots. We have access to the good arrows, so the lack of bow selection isn't a big deal. As a nice bonus, +ranged accuracy equipment tends to be on the cheap side. If you sub RNG, you'll have access to the EX Archery weaponskills, including Sidewinder at level 59. The proximity penalties for accuracy and damage on ranged attacks make this skill less useful than it once was, but it still has its place.
Club (D) - There isn't much use for this skill for Red Mages. We use wands for casting, but since we don't use wands to deal damage, there isn't any need to have accuracy/attack bonuses with them. As far as weaponskills are concerned, the only one really worth considering is Hexa Strike, but we can never use it. Starlight restores a small amount of MP, so has potential in solo if you gain TP with Archery, but that's a stretch. Generally you don't need to worry about this skill.
Evasion (D) - Evasion is your ability to avoid hits. It's not going to help you very much in XP parties because of the low rank, but capped Evasion is handy for soloing, or the odd situations where you find yourself tanking.
Throwing (F) - Not much use for this skill at all. It's ranked too low to be meaningful, and we don't have any interesting things we can throw anyway. The only use for this might use throwing Darts to pull with, but Archery is better for pulling (longer range) anyway. If Red Mage is your main job, you might find it useful to cheaply skill up Throwing for a job like Ninja.
Parrying (E) - This skill involved blocking attacks with your weapon, provided you have a weapon out and the enemy is in your frontal arc. This is a useful skill for soloing, but don't expect to have it anywhere near capped.
Shield (F) - Using your shield to reduce some damage from enemy attacks, provided you have one equipped and the enemy is in front of you. Shield is more useful than Parry because it doesn't require you to be in attack mode in order to work. The rate of shield blocking and the amount of damage it absorbs is tied to the size of the shield: bucklers (smallest) tend to fire often but only block a little damage, round and kite shields will fire less often but absorb more damage per hit. We are not able to equip Tower Shields.
note: We have no native skill in Staff or Hand-to-hand, so when using these weapons, our skill is capped at the level of our subjob (if any). This also applies to spell-based skills like Ninjutsu, Summoning, etc.
The in-game descriptions for the various Job Traits aren't really very good, so here is a quick run-down of what you can expect to acquire as you level up. For passive traits, we essentially get a smattering of both White Mage and Black Mage traits, but at a later level and more slowly. Many of these traits are upgraded, but it's difficult to tell when it happens because the icon doesn't change and no feedback is given. Some of the figures here are best guesses.
Fast Cast - This Red Mage unique trait has changed many times over the course of the game. Essentially it does two things: it reduces the casting time of spells and cuts the recast time. You get Fast Cast I starting at level 15, and upgrades at 35 and 55. The first level of Fast Cast reduces casting time by 10%, each upgrade reduces it by an additional 5%. Our AF hat serves as a +10% boost to Fast Cast. Fast Cast reduces recast timers by half the amount of the trait. For example, with 20% Fast Cast your recast timers will be reduced by 10%.
Magic Attack Bonus - You'll notice a huge increase in nuke damage once you first get this skill at level 20. It adds a whopping 20% bonus, increases to 24% by level 40, and 28% by level 60.
Magic Defense Bonus - The opposite of Magic Attack Bonus. It reduces all magic damage that you take by a certain percentage. Granted at level 25, and upgraded at 45.
Resist Petrify - Sort of useless, but occasionally helps, like most "resist" traits other jobs have. Don't count on this skill to save you, but if you ever see a message like "Resisted!" at the beginning of the line, you'll know it's your job trait and not just a regular resist.
Clear Mind - We don't get to use this as much as White Mage, Black Mage, and Summoner do, but every little bit helps. Every level of Clear Mind adds +3MP to your resting regen per tick. We earn it at level 31, and have two upgrades (at 53 and 75). The highest level of Clear Mind that we acquire increases the speed that MP regen ramps up, to +2 instead of +1 per tick.
This list of spells is not meant to be exhaustive, but intended to give you a good idea what situations you should be using certain abilities in. This list includes a few spells from other jobs that you can only get subbed, but I've indicated which ones. Note that you should be leaning on +MND equipment for White Magic, and +INT equipment for Black Magic.
Dia/Dia II - Dia will reduce the target's defense by 5%, 10% for Dia II. Unless you have a caster-heavy party or a weak tank, this is usually the spell of choice. Dia can't be resisted with any frequency, so you can pass Dia duty to the WHM if you need MP. Dia has a minor damage over time component and a fixed duration, so don't Dia anything that you intend to put to sleep. Important: Dia and Bio will not stack with each other. The spells overwrite in this order: Bio III > Dia III > Bio II > Dia II > Bio > Dia
Cure - You'll have four flavors of Cure spells over the course of your career. If you haven't levelled a job with Healing Magic before, the first time you get a new Cure spell it will be comparatively weak. Generally your highest Cure is considered an "emergency" cure, because it's less MP efficient until Healing and MND catch up. Each of them has a "soft cap" at which point additional Healing skill or MND has no effect. Here are the approximate soft caps for each spell:
Curaga/Curaga II (WHM) - Other-targeted group heal. You won't get any better than the second tier of this, so it's good to combine it with Divine Seal if you badly need to heal people. The center of the AOE effect is the person that you cast it on, so this spell can be safely used from the back line.
Healing Breeze (BLU) - Self-targetted group heal. Healing Breeze is technically consider wind-element Blue Magic, but is included here because of its function as a heal. This spell is MUCH more MP-efficient than /WHM's Curaga line of spells, but the target is centered on the caster, so you need to put yourself into the fray in order to use it. This spell generally only sees use in parties where group heals are helpful, but /WHM's status cures are not needed.
Regen - We only get the first version of this spell, but getting 125 HP over ~2 minutes for only 15MP is no joke. It's an excellent spell when you first get it at 21, and remains useful through most of your career (eclipsed a bit once White Mages get better versions) for a cheap way to replenish HP over time.
Enspells - If you are in melee, put an element-appropriate Enspell on. The spell lasts three minutes, and does damage based on your Enhancing skill. Like most forms of magical damage, Enspells can be fully or partially resisted (you can minimize this effect by using an elemental the target is weak to), but the damage is guaranteed if you hit, and damage from Enspells won't give the monster extra TP. Red Mages only have access to the six primary elemental damage types: Fire, Ice, Water, Lightning, Earth, and Wind.
Bar-element spells - Examples of these would be Barstone, Barfire, etc. Essentially they increase the chance that you will partially or fully resist an elemental spell of that type. Red Mages only get single-target version of these spells, but White Mages get self-targeted group versions. Note that these spells work on more than just damage. They also give you a chance to resist elemental enfeebles, such as using Baraero for silence, or Barwater for Poison. The benefit from Bar-element spell will stack with the bonuses received from equipment. You can only have one Bar-element spell active at a time.
Bar-status spells - Similar to Bar-element spells, except that these reduce the duration of very specific effects rather than increasing your chance to resist them outright. They stack in a limited fashion with Bar-element spells, so put on Barblizzard and Barparalyze for the ultimate protection from paralysis. You can only have one Bar-status spell active at a time.
Protect/Shell - Protect increases DEF, and Shell reduces all magical damage by a set percentage. Red Mages only get single-target versions of these spells, from tier I to tier IV. If you find yourself without a White Mage, you may find it useful to cast the weaker Protectra/Shellra spells on everyone, and give your tank the best single-target versions. It's generally too much of a drain to cast 12 of these spells back to back every 30 minutes.
Aquaveil - Reduces interruption rate. This spell isn't terribly useful in parties, but you'll find it invaluable for soloing. It's not too expensive (and lasts 5 minutes) but has a long casting time so make sure to put it up before engaging.
Paralyze - You'll almost always want this enfeeble on the monster. It's a steal at only 6MP, and makes the monster randomly lose attacks over the duration of the spell. Even if the effect only fires ONCE, that's damage the tank didn't take. If that hit would have cost a Cure to fix, this spell just paid for itself.
Slow - Another enfeeble you'll almost always want to have applied. The effect of Slow varies depending on your MND vs. the mob's MND, but is typically around a 15% attack rate decrease. For only 15MP, you can't lose. Not only does it decrease the monster's damage over time, it also gives Paladins more breathing room to self-cure, and grants a Ninja extra time to recast Utsusemi. A Ninja's Hojo: Ni will over-write this spell (but is not necessarily more powerful, as Ninjutsu potency is not impacted by any stat).
Sneak/Invisible/Deodorize - Sneak and Invisible will allow you to skirt your way past monsters who detect by sound, sight, or both. The duration is random, but Enhancing will increase the maximum length possible. It is castable on other party members. Deodorize will sometimes help you lose a monster that is tailing you and tracks by smell, but use of this is dodgy at best.
Diaga - AOE version of Dia. Usually not appropriate to cast, but it's the only offensive AOE spell we have natively, so it's handy for stripping Blink from mobs, as long as they don't need to be slept.
Silence - Puts those pesky casting monsters out of business. The duration is not reliable, so watch your chat log. This is a good spell to use when soloing worms from a distance, and will quickly shut down Beastmen casters. If something is casting dangerous party-wiping spells like Ancient Magic or -aga nukes, Silence is the #1 priority. Note that the silence effect only matters at the moment of casting: if you Silence something and it wears off before the casting animation finishes (sometimes happens with Ancient Magic), the spell will still come out. Only a stun will actively stop a charging spell.
Blink - This is a defensive spell that will give you two shadow images. When you are attacked, either with a single-target spell or a regular attack, there is a chance that one of your images will absorb the effect instead of you, which destroys the image. The images have no damage threshold, so this spell is really useful on hard hits. It has a long casting time though, so is not worth using while you are under attack. If you're about to Convert and you think you might get the monsters attention when you cure yourself out of the Red, this isn't a bad spell to cast.
Stoneskin - Blocks 100% of damage until it runs out of "HP". The amount of damage Stoneskin will absorb is impacted heavily by MND, and Enhancing to a lesser extent. Stoneskin will not protect you from more than one or two hits from XP-level monsters, but it's good Convert insurance against AOEs that Blink will not stop. In solo play, especially combined with Phalanx, this spell is amazing.
Phalanx - This is the spell that really sets us apart from other casters. It's a three-minute duration defensive spell that reduces all incoming damage by a certain fixed amount (depending solely on Enhancing skill). It can make Stoneskin last an order of magnitude longer, and on monsters that are TW or borderline EP it can often reduce the damage to 0. Against XP level mobs it's not as useful, as taking 15 points away from a 200 point hit isn't going to save your life often, but this spell enables you to solo/farm things that other classes can only dream of.
Raise - We only get the basic version of this spell that revives people from the dead. You'll sometimes be called on for Raises pre-50, but once XP loss begins to hurt, most people will look for a Raise II or a Raise III.
Refresh - In a nutshell, this is the job-defining spell that turns 40 MP from you into 150 MP for them. I'll go into this in great detail in a specific section for Refresh.
Haste - Increases attack speed of the target, and cuts down on their recast time as well. This is sort of a pricey spell, and largely the domain of the White Mage in your party. Usually you want it on the heavy melee DDs of the party, and on the tank (easier to keep hate, also has the benefit of reducing recast for Flash and Utsusemi). Hasting every melee in the party is usually a Bad Idea<tm>, but we'll cover this later.
Status Cures (WHM) - White Mages have all of the single-target spells that cure things like Petrified, Poisoned, Diseased, etc. We can get all but Stona from a /WHM sub, many of the useful ones are low enough level to allow us to help the White Mage with curing, or take over the role ourselves. Spells like Blindna are particularly helpful to have two status curers on, because of the recast timer associated with it. Also note that /WHM grants Erase at Red Mage level 64.
Banish/Banish II, Banishga (WHM) - The Banish line of spells does Light-elemental damage, and is based on MND rather than INT. Banish doesn't do a great deal of damage, and is not as MP-efficient as elemental nukes, but has a "hidden" property of reducing the natural resistances of undead-type monsters by a percentage (by "natural resistances", meaning a damage type the monster is usually resistant to. Does not reduce overall DEF like Dia, and has no effect on damage types the monster is already weak against). The effect is random and only lasts for a few seconds. Avoiding a full resist with an E-rated skill on XP mobs is very difficult, but it gives you something to burst with on Transfixion chains.
Elemental nukes - There are six elements of nuke spells, and we have access to the first three tiers of them. They have no added effect. They just deal damage to a single target. Make sure you're targeting the weakness of the monster to reduce resists. Also, don't spam the same element if you can avoid it, monsters will gradually build up a resistance to it (for example: alternate Blizzard and Thunder on crabs, which are weak to both).
Poison - The damage these spells do is based on your Enfeebling skill. The damage on Poison is fairly pathetic (but it's a cheap spell, no great loss), but Poison II does a pretty hefty amount of damage over time. In regular XP parties the monster may die too fast for it to take full effect, but in solo (provided you don't need to Sleep the mob), this is a solid spell.
Blind - This spell reduces the monster's accuracy significantly, and stacks with Flash. A Ninja's Kurayami: Ni will over-write this spell.
Bio - Opposite of Dia, reduces the attack rating of the monster by 5% and 10%. Bio also does a fairly decent amount of damage over time, depending on your Dark skill. Bio is usually not appropriate unless you have a caster heavy party.
Bind - Holds a monster in place for a short period of time. Not always reliable, so it's for emergency use only. This spell is a handy at early solo levels, but you should probably be meleeing anyway. Any non-zero, non-DOT damage has the potential to "break" a Bind before the duration is up, even someting like Dia (however, spells like Poison have no initial damage, so Bind will not be broken).
Spike Spells - Blaze does damage, Ice causes paralysis, and Shock causes stun. You won't use this in a party situation unless you happen to be tanking. For solo, these are good to cast. For farming hordes of monsters simultaneously, the utility of these spells are out-done only by Phalanx.
Gravity - This is an RDM-only enfeeble that reduces the movement speed of monsters, and has a small evasion reduction (tested at -10). If your melees need an extra accuracy edge, cast this spell. If the tank is having trouble controlling the monster, Gravity will make it more manageable. When you first get it, this is a pricey spell, and it has a pretty lengthy recast time (60 seconds), but it becomes more useful as you advance. Gravity also has use as a pulling spell, and for kiting monsters that you are unable to Sleep.
Sleep - Single target spell that takes the monster out of action until the spell wears off, or it takes damage and wakes up. Sleep II has a longer duration and will overwrite Sleep (use this to your advantage). As a Red Mage, you have the highest natural enfeebling, so crowd control will often be your job. However, since Sleep is dark-based, you'll have a lot of difficulty making it stick on undead and bats (leave this to the Bard/Corsair and their light-based Sleeps).
Sleepga (BLM) - This spell has the same priority and duration as Sleep (meaning it will be over-written by Sleep II), but had the added advantage of being AOE (so it will strip Utsusemi/Blink from the target), and a "third" timed sleep spell.
Dispel - Besides Refresh, this spell is the other reason people invite Red Mages to parties. In short, it removes a single buff from your target, but the Dispel section will go into much more detail.
Elemental Enfeebles (BLM) - There are six, one for each element.
Shock - MND debuff, lightning damage (decreases resistance to White Magic)
Rasp - DEX debuff, earth damage (decreases melee accuracy)
Choke - VIT debuff, wind damage (increases non-magical damage taken)
Frost - AGI debuff, ice damage (decreases evasion)
Burn - INT debuff, fire damage (increases magical damage taken, decreases resistance to Black Magic)
Drown - STR debuff, water damage (decreases melee damage dealt)
Each of these does damage over time. They stack, but oddly. Each one of them has an element, and it will over-write any element that is weak to it. For example, ice is weak to fire, so Burn will over-write Frost. The end result is that you can't have any two enfeebles that touch each other on the elemental wheel: Fire -> Ice -> Wind -> Earth -> Thunder -> Water -> Fire
In a party, you'll usually use Shock to help increase Slow/Para potency, Burn to boost nuke damage before an MB, Choke to increase general melee damage output, and Frost to help the melees with their accuracy. The other enfeebles have their place, but are not as important. The stat reduction of each enfeeble appears to be -7, fixed. Note that the strength of elemental enfeebles does not decay over the duration of the spell, and they deal damage (so they will prevent the use of Sleep). The amount of DOT damage is tied to your INT.
Drain (BLM/DRK) - For 21 MP, you deal damage to the monster and heal yourself. At low levels of Dark skill, this isn't a great spell. At high levels, it's one of the most efficient nukes in the game, and an excellent way to recover some HP after taking damage in a party (stray hit or AOE). It's also nice to top off your HP after you heal yourself post-Convert.
Aspir (BLM/DRK) - If the monster you're fighting has MP, this spell is your best friend. Every time the recast is up, you can use this to try to steal some MP. Coupled with Elemental Seal and/or a Dark Staff, you can really get some nice numbers, especially on crab-type monsters.
Absorb-MND, CHR, AGI, VIT (DRK) - The Absorb line of spells will drain a specific stat from the target, and give it to you. The effect decays over the course of the spell, but will stack with Absorb spells from other DRKs. Absorb-MND is particularly useful because of the dual effect of increasing the potency of your White Magic enfeebles, and reducing the monster's resistance to them.
Stun (DRK) - This spell does exactly what you'd think: it stuns the target, and cancels whatever action they were in the middle of (goblins throwing a bomb, mage casting AM/-aga spells, etc). Since you won't get this spell from your subjob until 74+ it doesn't have much use until endgame, but is useful in combination with Chainspell for 60 seconds of Stunning on Gods/HNMs/Dynamis Lord.
For the math inclined, here are some numbers and formulas you may find useful. Decimal results are truncated.
Phalanx: (Enhancing / 10) - 2
Enspells when Enhancing > 150: (Enhancing / 20) + 5
Enspells when Enhancing < 150: SquareRoot(Enhancing) - 1
Corresponding Date/Weather: +10% dmg, Corresponding Double Weather: +20% dmg. Effect of element day and weather will stack.
Bar-element spells : (Enhancing / 5) + 40
Stoneskin when Total HP absorbed < 200: (Enhancing / 3 + MND) * 2 - 60
Stoneskin when Total HP absorbed >= 200: (Enhancing / 3 + MND) * 3 - 190
Magic Atk. Bonus:
Moldavite Earring: +0.05
Blaze Spikes: ((INT + 2) / 12 + 4) * Magic Atk. Bonus
Ice / Shock Spikes: ((INT + 10) / 20 + 2) * Magic Atk. Bonus
TP gain: (truncate all decimals)
Delay 0 - 180 5.0 + [(Delay - 180) * 1.5] / 180
Delay 180 - 450 5.0 + [(Delay - 180) * 6.5] / 270
Delay 450 - 480 11.5 + [(Delay - 450) * 1.5] / 30
Delay 480 - 530 13.0 + [(Delay - 480) * 1.5] / 50
Delay 530 - 999 14.5 + [(Delay - 530) * 3.5] / 470
Compared to DDs, Red Mages don't have very many spectacular weaponskills. Some of the strongest Sword WS's we have are EX, meaning we need to sub WAR, DRK or PLD in order to access them. Generally you'll only be concerned with weaponskills in solo or specific-use parties when you'll actually have the TP to use them. This section will list some relevant skills, and the skill/level you acquire them at. For the exotic Sword weaponskills, it's listed where you'll need a WAR/DRK/PLD sub. Note that elemental weaponskills (such as Burning Blade or Gust Slash) do not take the DMG rating of your weapon into account, and that only physical weaponskills can be stacked with Sneak Attack for RDM/THF.
Weaponskill Name (Skill/Level acquired, EX)
Fast Blade (10/3) - For better or for worse, this is your best Sword WS for a very long time. It's a simple double-hit physical attack with a minor STR and DEX damage bonus. Saving up extra TP will give you more damage, but the best TP efficiency is at 100%.
Burning Blade (30/10) - This WS will probably see some use in early parties. It does single-hit fire elemental damage, and adds a portion of your STR and INT to the final tally. Like most similar weaponskills, ramping up your INT will have a noticeable impact on damage. A nice property of Burning Blade is that it can open a Fusion skillchain, which can be particularly useful with a Monk to close it with Combo/Raging/etc. The "sweet spot" for Burning Blade efficiency is between 100-200% TP.
Red Lotus Blade (50/17, EX) - Exactly like Burning Blade in most respects, but with more punch. RLB has a greater STR bonus component, and a larger damage multiplier. For some inexplicable reason, RLB is considered Wind element for a secondary position on the SC chart (it can close Detonation, open Gravitation, etc).
Flat Blade (75/26) - A single physical hit attack that will stun the target. It has a flat (heh) modifier to damage, so saving up TP will only make the stun more likely and longer lasting, not add more damage. Flat Blade adds a decent amount of your STR to the hit, but the numbers on this WS won't impress anyone. Primarily you'll use it to stop longer-cast spells (like higher tier -aga spells and Ancient Magic) and slow-acting special attacks (like Goblin bombs). Anywhere a stun is useful, we have Flat Blade. For damage, use something else.
Shining Blade (100/34) - Much like burning Blade, except it does Light damage and uses MND as a modifier. In spite of this, Shining Blade is actually earth-based on the SC chart. Mostly this WS is used when fighting undead or something that's particularly strong versus physical damage.
Seraph Blade (125/43, EX) - The big brother of Shining Blade, it has a larger base multipler and adds a portion of your STR to the final hit.
Circle Blade (150/51) - This is an area-of-effect physical attack. At first glance it looks fairly useful, but feeding it TP will only give you a larger AOE radius. It adds a portion of your STR, but is not terribly effective for farming because of the damage issue. Still, if you are wielding a Sword, this is your only AOE attack.
Spirits Within (175/56) - Spirits is an odd WS, because it does damage based on your current HP and TP. It will deal anywhere from 4/32 - 15/32 (approximate) of your current HP. Clearly, this WS is most efficient at 300% TP, where it deals nearly half your health in damage. The most interesting property of Spirits Within is that it is completely non-elemental, cannot miss, and doesn't chain with anything (it won't even interrupt a skillchain in progress). For mobs that are both physical/magic resistant, or highly evasive, Spirits is guaranteed damage, making it ideal for NMs and HNMs. In general use against lesser monsters, the other Weaponskills will generally do more damage per TP. Spirits is one WS where Galka and Elvaan RDMs have a significant edge because of their higher natural base HP.
Vorpal Blade (200/62, EX) - Vorpal is a four-hit physical WS that cranks out a lot of damage for a Sword skill. Feeding TP to Vorpal will only increase the critical chance, so you'll usually use it at 100%. It tends to be most effective on monsters without high evasion as you'll want as many of the hits landing as possible (accuracy gear is important). Unfortunately, you can only use it with a WAR/DRK/PLD sub, like all of the other EX Sword skills. This is generally the best Sword WS for damage over time.
Savage Blade (240/73) - This is our quested Sword WS that gives us access to Level 3 Light skillchains. It's a double-hit like Fast Blade, but has a much higher multiplier, adds a decent amount of STR damage, a great amount of MND damage, and scales up fairly well from 100-300%. The downside: we can't get it until 73.
Wasp Sting (10/3) - A mostly forgettable WS. It's physical damage, procs a mild poison, only does a single hit, has no secondary stats and TP will not ramp up the damage.
Gust Slash (40/14) - Gust Slash is a fairly decent WS. It does wind damage, and adds a portion of DEX/INT to the total. We tend to hit harder with this than Thieves do because of our natural INT. The damage multiplier on this is very simliar to Burning Blade. Gust Slash does optimal damage in the 100-200% TP range.
Shadowstitch (70/24) - Single hit, physical, has CHR as a secondary modifier (very strange), and a bind effect. Added TP will only make the bind stronger. Not often used, Gust Slash will usually deal more damage.
Viper Bite (100/34) - Similiar to Wasp Sting, but has a much stronger poison and a secondary effect that multiplies your ATK for the hit. Viper is a boon for a Thief SATA, but doesn't generally do a lot for us because we can't use daggers with high damage ratings.
Cyclone (125/43) - This is the WS that Red Mages look forward to. It's an AOE attack, but it does wind elemental damage. Not only that, but DEX/INT increases the damage (especially INT) and TP increases the base modifier, unlike Circle Blade. The sweet spot for Cyclone is around 200% TP for the most efficient damage. Cyclone is very useful for farming, because it doesn't cost MP or suffer penalties on multiple targets like -aga spells do. On lower level monsters it's easy for us to cap the INT ratio, so the damage done can be fairly extreme.
Energy Steal (150/51) - Steals MP from monsters that have it, similar to Aspir. Unlike Aspir, it will give you consistent returns on MP stolen. This WS doesn't deal any damage. For the best efficiency, use at 100% TP.
Energy Drain (175/56) - An improved version of Energy Steal. It's about 25% more effective, but otherwise identical.
Evisceration (230/71) - This is our quested Dagger WS. It's a five-hit physical attack, with a DEX secondary component, a modest damage multiplier with more TP, and opens up the ability to participate in level 3 Dark skillchains. Evisceration was recently changed to add to critical chance for more TP, and with the higher-DMG endgame daggers this is actually a very powerful WS.
Primary Support Jobs
The choice of subjob is probably the second most hotly debated subject when it comes to Red Mages. While your primary enfeebling/refreshing/dispelling functions come from your main job, support jobs add a bit of flavor to your play style in the way of extra spells, JA's, and augmented stats. The purpose of this section of the guide is not to tell you which subjob to use, or which is "best" (if there even is such a thing), but to give you what you need to make an informed decision. In an attempt to make the choice of subjob less intimidating for a novice Red Mage, I'll include suggested usage for each sub.
- High INT levels: good for slightly boosting nuke damage, and sticking black magic enfeebles (especially emergency Sleep/Gravity).
- Excellent utility spells: Warp, Drain, Aspir, Escape, and six Elemental stat enfeebles.
- Great MP bonus
- Conserve MP Trait (~7% MP savings over time)
- JAs: Elemental Seal (every 10 minutes, makes the next nuke/enfeeble/sleep almost guaranteed to stick)
- AOE -aga nukes (mostly used for soloing)
- Sleepga - area-effect sleep spell (backup for Sleep I/II, or for controlling multiple adds)
- Lacks the party support -ra spells from /WHM, and status cures
- No melee enhancements to speak of
This is probably the most widely-accepted subjob for a Red Mage. It essentially adds spells that make you more useful as a caster in the party. Escape for getting your party out of trouble, elemental enfeebles for augmenting standard enfeebles and controlling the performance of the party, and Drain/Aspir to help stretch your HP/MP where appropriate. Elemental Seal means an almost guaranteed stick on any XP mob, and Conserve MP -- while not earth shattering in its own right -- is a nice bonus, allowing you to stay on your feet longer. For farming hordes of low-level monsters, the -aga nukes can be invaluable if there are enough targets to justify the MP cost.
Uses: RDM/BLM for party play, where there is already a WHM or /WHM to cover -ra Barspells and group cures. At low levels, this support job doesn't offer much in the way of benefits until 30+. Most useful if there is no BLM in the party, but not redundant by any means if there is. For solo, /BLM is very flexible and multipurpose.
- High MND levels: our most important enfeebles use the MND stat, and MND helps with not-yet-capped emergency Cures.
- Status cures: Poisona, Paralyna, Blindna, etc.
- Group Bar-element spells
- Good MP bonus (slightly less than /BLM)
- Auto-Regen trait (1HP every 3 seconds)
- JAs: Divine Seal (double curing potency, past cap, every 10 minutes)
- Erase and Reraise
- Banishga isn't close to being as powerful as BLM -aga AOEs
- No real melee enhancements
White Mage is a strong support job, seen often at lower levels. Few parties can get by without group bar-spells and status cures, so RDM/WHM fits the bill if there are no real White Mages or /WHM subbed in the party. A /WHM sub will not make your cures appreciably stronger. Using Divine Seal after a Convert is a good way to quickly top off your HP, or combine it with a Curaga spell to fix AOE damage. Auto-Regen is subtly useful, helping to save yourself some MP healing yourself after a Convert (in 10 minutes it will heal 200HP, potentially saving ~50MP from cures), and cutting down how difficult it is to fix damage from a stray hit or AOE. In general, the status cures and Erase are the biggest advantages of choosing this subjob.
Uses: RDM/WHM for party play as a main healer and status curing (especially useful at endgame in TP burn parties). Occasionally useful when confronting AOE Blind spells even with a regular WHM, because of the long recast of Blindna. In dual RDM parties, usually one will sub /WHM. At high levels, you get access to Reraise and Erase. For solo play, /WHM offers less utility than /BLM because of the lack of emergency spells and Drain/Aspir, however saves on having to carry medicine because of status cures (and Erase catches things medicine will miss).
- Mage's Ballad at RDM50/BRD25, for a 1MP/tick song that stacks with Refresh
- Various other weak versions of songs for accuracy, attack, etc.
- The first-tier Etudes for stat enhancement
- Magic Finale, the BRD's version of Dispel, costs no MP and usually sticks.
- No MP, poor casting stats
- Cannot use instruments, only one song can be used at a time
- No chance of sticking BRD enfeebles, DOT spells, or elemental debuffs with half-level skills
- No JAs or useful Job Traits
Bard's primary benefit is Mage's Ballad. Red Mages don't have the freedom of movement that BRDs do, so making use of the melee-oriented songs on the front lines is not easy to do. In caster-heavy parties (especially with Paladin tanks), /BRD is a viable choice.
Uses: Party play in specific situations with Ballad, particularly where there are other mages to handle utility spells.
- Good INT and MND scores
- Highest natural MP from any sub
- Auto-Refresh (1MP every 3 seconds)
- Limited avatar buffs (Aerial Armor and Shining Ruby in particular)
- Ability to use Carbuncle to pull (link-free)
- Lacks WHM/BLM utility spells
- Half-level avatars aren't much good for tanking/meleeing
- Few useful melee enhancements
Summoner is the last of the mage subs. It offers a few party buffs, and good overall casting stats. The big buy-in is Auto-Refresh starting at RDM 50, which will give you more MP over time (unless you're spending 200+ MP per minute) than Conserve MP. Since this subjob is a late-bloomer, you won't likely see it until the mid-to-high end game. The primary disadvantage is the loss of WHM and BLM abilities, which is a killer if you need to replace either of these jobs. Less common subjob, but accepted: the primary purpose of subbing /SMN is for bonus MP and Auto-Refresh.
Uses: Party play when you need Aerial Armor (commonly known as Blinkga. Group Blink is especially handy when the THF requires a Trick Buddy to take hits - Aerial Armor will soak the damage) or the 10% DEF/SHELL bonus from Carbuncle (Paladins love this), and Auto-Refresh. This subjob is most useful when the traditional WHM and BLM abilities are already adequately covered by other players. RDM/SMN can also function as a main healer as long as there is another party member to pick up /WHM status cure duty. In a party without a BLM or a /WHM, this subjob is less effective. For soloing, Refresh makes /SMN pretty strong, and in some cases the half-level avatars are useful for farming.
Other Support Jobs
Having WHM and BLM available will suit you in almost every pickup party situation, but some of the following are useful in statics, HNM fights, solo, etc.
- Job traits: Dual Wield and Subtle Blow
- Ninjutsu: Utsusemi, Tonko, and others to a lesser entent
- No bonus MP, poor casting stats
- Half-level Ninjutsu limits selection of useful spells, and causes high interruption rate when being hit
- Offers no melee enhancement other than Dual Wield, and no bonus Weaponskills
This is one of the more powerful soloing subs. Fast Cast makes Utsusemi safer to use while being hit, and reduces the recast timer. The damage from Enspells is greater over time thanks to the delay reduction of Dual Wield. This is not a very effective combination in an XP party. You'll rarely be able to take advantage of your shadows and the melee enhancement is less significant than other support job choices. RDM/NIN is only a stellar tank in solo situations, because you don't have many hate-grabbing tools for use in parties. The biggest bonus comes at 74, when you get Utsusemi: Ni.
Uses: Mostly for solo. Quests, NMs, skilling up, farming, exploration, etc.
- Job traits: Attack Bonus I & II, Arcana Killer (for smashing pots)
- JAs: Last Resort (30-second ATK boost, DEF penalty), Souleater (add % of your HP to damage), Weapon Bash (stun)
- Drain and Aspir earlier than /BLM (Aspir at RDM 40 instead of 50)
- Stun at 74+ (used with Chainspell against HNMs)
- Access to stronger sword weaponskills, such as Red Lotus Blade and Vorpal Blade
- Absorb spells starting at 62
- Modest MP boost, decent natural INT
- Lacks the full utility list of BLM
- No defensive enhancements to speak of
- Souleater is less effective when subbed, HP:damage in a 2:1 ratio.
- Last Resort duration much shorter than Berserk
- Weapon Bash requires a two-handed weapon
Dark Knight is a good soloing sub for when you want BLM's Drain/Aspir, but also /WAR's higher melee damage and better Sword weaponskills. Attack Bonus I & II cumulatively add +22 Attack, so it has a fairly significant impact on your damage output. Generally not recommended for use in parties because of low utility and less MP than a mage sub, but far from gimped.
Uses: Soloing - when Drain/Aspir, raw damage output, and superior weaponskills are needed. In parties, when you need Stun at 74+.
- Provoke: no-nonsense, free way to generate a big hate spike every 30 seconds.
- Other JAs: Berserk (+25% ATK, -25% DEF. Lasts three minutes, five minute recast.), Defender (+25% DEF, -25% ATK, three minute duration, three minute recast), War Cry (AOE attack boost)
- Job traits: Defense Bonus I, Attack Bonus I, Double Attack
- Access to stronger sword weaponskills, such as Red Lotus Blade and Vorpal Blade
- No MP bonus
- No utility spells, or any spells whatsoever
- Poor mage stats
Warrior offers no mage benefits at all, but is a well-balanced melee subjob. Defender is an excellent way to boost DEF in order to solo tough monsters, Double Attack will let you strike twice about 10% of the time. Warrior gives passive bonuses to both offense and defense. For soloing, Warrior is a good choice, particularly for skilling up. In non-XP situations, such as fighting with a friend or in a coffer/skill-up party, RDM/WAR makes a good tank against T/VT monsters because of Phalanx. In XP situations, against IT+ monsters, the effectiveness of Phalanx (and as such, this combination) is sharply reduced, and RDM/WAR is not recommended.
Uses: Solo play when you need a good mix of offense/defense in melee. In parties, small-scale tanking for specific situations.
- JAs: Steal, Sneak/Trick Attack, Flee, Mug
- Job Traits: Gilfinder, Treasure Hunter, Evasion Bonus I & II
- No mage stats, no MP, no useful Weaponskills that RDM doesn't already get
- Trick Attack is useless solo
- Sneak Attack becomes an ordinary critical hit when subbed
Thief is usually viewed as the farming subjob. Treasure Hunter will give you more drops, Gilfinder will help a little when killing Beastmen, and Flee is useful for escaping bad situations or for travel. The evasion bonuses are deceptively helpful, especially when fighting multiple lower-level monsters at once. A clever Red Mage can use Sleep to get behind a monster, and Sneak Attack + a weaponskill while soloing. While technically you can do a weak SATA to put hate on someone, it doesn't justify the subjob for party situations.
Uses: farming, and not much else.
- Charm: not as good as BST main, but fairly reliable
- Vermin/Bird/Amorph Killer traits
- JAs: all of the BST's pet commands, although a couple of the good ones not until endgame.
- Wide Scan: nice for NM hunting, or looking for new pets.
- The utility of this subjob is almost entirely in your pet. There are no MP bonuses, spells, or useful JAs.
- No access to jug-summonable pets: you must always have a charmable pet in the area you're fighting in.
- No "Leave" ability until RDM70, so you either have to kill off your pet before every fight is over, or deal with the 30% XP cut.
Beastmaster is an interesting choice for solo play. You will never be as effective as charming as a BST main, but RDM/BST can usually charm EP/DC pets somewhat reliably (not the 95%+ success rate of a BST, but passable). The success of Charm depends on the level of your BST main. The pet can serve as both a partner tank and extra damage output, and some pets have useful special abilities. The advantage of using pets with an RDM main is twofold: first, we are much more suitable for taking hits than a BST main, allowing us to do a majority of the tanking with Phalanx and Stoneskin. Our debuffs and Enhancing spells make monsters much easier to kill. Secondly, even though Charm fails more often for RDM/BST, we can put potential pets to Sleep, and keep trying until it sticks (same for when it wears off). Even without Sleep, we are better able to take punishment from the pet until Charm works.
Uses: Solo play with a twist. This is actually a viable way to gain XP on your own, albeit more slowly than in parties.
- Wide Scan: useful for NM hunting
- JAs: Sharp Shot (timed increase in ranged accuracy), Barrage (instant multi-shot attack on a five minute timer)
- Job traits: Accuracy Bonus I & II, Rapid Shot
- Bow-specific weaponskills, including Sidewinder at 59
- Like all melee subs, has no bonus MP or good casting stats
- RDM Archery skill is D-rated, this sub doesn't offer much for difficult monsters where normal accuracy will be terrible
- No useful melee enhancements
Ranger is a good sub for improving your Archery skill. Accuracy Bonus includes both melee and ranged accuracy, but other subjobs will offer more melee damage over time. For the purposes of fighting EM or lower monsters, with enough +ranged accuracy gear you can reliably hit them. Even though Red Mages are limited to shortbows, Archery can easily outdamage Sword/Dagger in many situations. Sidewinder in particular is an excellent skill, even when gained from a subjob it has the potential to do hundreds of damage. Barrage is also good for quick damage and TP gain. This subjob isn't terribly useful until 60, when you'll have Sidewinder, the second Accuracy bonus, and Barrage. Don't try RDM/RNG in a party, you'll never be able to hit IT+ mobs.
Uses: Solo, for a reasonable increase in damage through Archery. Also popular in Ballista for Barrage/Sidewinder.
- JAs: Sentinel, Cover, Holy Circle, Shield Bash
- Job traits: Defense Up I & II, Auto-Refresh, Shield Mastery
- Access to EX Sword skills
- Flash at 74+, Banish I/II
- Decent MP bonus
- Lacks the utility of mage subjobs, not viable in parties until almost endgame because of level requirement for traits and spells
Paladin is a subjob only recently made useful by the PLD upgrade. The addition of Auto-Refresh gives RDM/PLD staying power in combat, and Shield Mastery boosts the TP return from shield blocks when you are taking damage. RDM/PLD is seeing increased use for both solo play, and in specific XP situations.
Uses: In solo, it is useful for fighting Undead, or when you want Auto-Refresh and Vorpal Blade at the same time. In XP parties or against HNMs, the use is for Auto-Refresh and Flash.
- Variety of subjob-level monster abilities
- Job traits and stat boost based on abilities set
- Access to EX Sword skills
- Good MP bonus
- Lacks the utility of usual mage subjobs for XP/solo
Blue Mage as a subjob is the most useful of the three jobs added with ToAU. It offers specific but powerful abilities for solo and party play.
Uses: In solo, the big buy-in is Cocoon. It gives +50% DEF and stacks with the bonus from DEF food, enabling RDM/BLU to have obscene levels of defense. In party play, Healing Breeze is impacted by RDM's native Healing Magic skill, enabling it to be a great deal more MP efficient than even Curaga once in endgame.
Monk, Dragoon, Samurai, Puppetmaster, Corsair
These jobs have various issues that make them generally unsuitable as Red Mage subjobs, either because of redundancy, reduced effectiveness of abilities when subbed, or disadvantages over other viable options that are too serious to ignore. That's not to say that they don't have some oddball uses, but it's beyond the scope of this guide to cover them.
Dispel is a single-target enfeebling spell that will remove one beneficial buff from the target. It is Red Mage unique and gained at level 32. Many mob buffs are powerful and can mean the difference between making or breaking an XP chain, so parties rely on Dispel to keep things going smoothly. Unlike other enfeebling spells, Dispel is rarely resisted, even on IT+++ mobs. In some instances, you will see people using /RDM as a sub for this spell.
The only other job classes with the ability to do this natively are Bards (Magic Finale), Corsairs (Dark Shot), and Blue Mages (Blank Gaze, Geist Wall). Though all of these abilities have identical effects, they act a little differently. Dispel costs 25MP, is dark-element based, and has a rapid cast/recast time (you can cast another almost immediately after the first). Finale is "free" (it's a song), light-elemental based, but has a long cast/recast time (24 seconds). Dark Shot requires a consumable item every time it's used, shares a timer with other Quick Draw abilities, and can only be used every 60 seconds. Blank Gaze is sight-based, Light element and costs MP; Geist Wall is Dark element, AOE, and has a higher MP cost. And of course, Blue Mages must specifically choose to add a particular spell to their current casting list. The elemental attribute is occasionally important for resists, for example dark-resistant Anticans will occasionally resist a Dispel (even a Too Weak).
Most Red Mages will tailor their chat filters so that they can see when the monster is casting the buff (Robber Crab readies Scissor Guard) and/or when the buff takes effect (Robber Crab gains the effect of Defense Boost). Since the February 2005 update we have had the capability to specifically unfilter mobs that the party is fighting (red name) and this is probably the best set to use for dispelling.
Following is a list of the types of buffs you will run into in the course of leveling. Note that it's not meant to be 100% exhaustive, but just to give you a general idea of what to look for. When you are fighting a new type of monster, it's a good idea to ask or research what sort of abilities they have, so you can decide how to deal with them. An excellent resource for this is the Things to Dispel FAQ, but here's a short list:
- Defense Boost (skills like Scissor Guard, or a spell like Protect) - These spells are generally high priority for Dispel, especially when the majority of your DDs are melee jobs. Some Defense Boost skills are incredibly powerful and will reduce killing speed to a crawl.
- Evasion Boost (such as Rhino Guard, Water Shield) - Evasion boost is also a high priority for Dispel, for a similar reason: if the DDs cannot land hits on the monster, it will take too long for it to die.
- Magic Defense Up (Bubble Curtain, Shell) - This buff will generally reduce all magical damage by a percentage. MDU will seriously hurt skillchains and shut down Black Mages (along with your own Magic Bursts), so it can be important to remove.
- Stoneskin (Metallic Body, Stoneskin) - Essentially functions as our Stoneskin spell and absorbs all damage until depleted. whether or not you need to Dispel depends on the strength: Metallic Body is typically so weak that a DD can remove it in one hit before you get a chance to Dispel.
- Berserk (Berserk, Rage) - Berserk is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the monster is dealing more damage to your tank, on the other hand, all of your physical-damage DDs are hitting it harder. The choice to Dispel is situational. Note that there are some buffs that are a straight attack bonus with no accompanying DEF penalty, and in those cases a Dispel is probably warranted.
- Spikes (Blaze, Ice, Shock) - The spells hurt anyone hitting the monster in melee, usually a good idea to get rid of them as soon as possible. Ice spikes are particularly dangerous because they proc Paralyze (usually found when fighting caster-based undead).
There are other buffs, such as white-magic Haste, Aquaveil, various stat boosts, HP/MP regen, Enspells, etc, so keep an eye out.
There are a few things to take into consideration when you're casting Dispel. First: some mobs will come to the camp pre-buffed. Caster-beastmen will certainly arrive with buffs, but sometimes melee beastmen will get freebies from mages they are with, so be prepared to remove Protect, Shell, etc. Second, sometimes you can let a pointless buff slide (such as Aquaveil), but you have to be careful that it doesn't come back to haunt you. If the monster later casts something that's important to Dispel (like Protect), it may take you twice as long to get rid of it, because now it has two buffs. Third, if you have a Bard in the party, it's a wise idea to let them Finale whenever possible. Dispel is more reliable (generally), but it costs you MP; Finale only costs a BRD time. Fourth, be wary of timing: a Defense Boost right before a skillchain (or Shell right before the Magic Burst) will seriously hurt the damage output of your party. Dispel should take priority except in dire emergencies. Refresh, recasting enfeebles, and hastes can wait a few seconds. It's a good idea to expect the worst when it comes to skillchains and be prepared to dispel at a moment's notice.
Finally, it's important to understand how monsters use their TP for skills. When they are above 25% HP or so, they will randomly use them, but when they are under 25%, they will use one whenever they get 100% TP. That means that the last few moments of combat are when the monster is most likely to cast abilities that need to be Dispelled, so you need to be more alert than usual. If you are the only dispeller in the party, this means your opportunities to rest at the tail end of fights is diminished. Keep that in mind.
The fact that an entire section is dedicated to this one spell ought to be an indicator how important it is. This spell is the reason that people will invite you in the post-41 game. That being said, remember that you are only one person in a party full of people: nobody likes a prima donna Red Mage.
Some facts about Refresh:
- Single-target spell that costs 40MP
- Can be cast on any member of your party (not alliance)
- Provides 3MP every 3 seconds for two and a half minutes (150 MP total)
- Has a 4-5 second cast time, and 18 second recast time (subject to Fast Cast)
- Generally you can cast at least two standard spells between Refresh recasts
- Enhancing skill has no impact on the effect or duration of Refresh
- Neither does MND, INT, or elemental staves
When you first get Refresh, it's exciting and daunting at the same time. You'll be expected to not only keep yourself refreshed, but to put it on any party members who use MP in order to keep experience flowing. Most successful Red Mages go through two stages with this spell.
When you first get it, it's easier to keep a hard and fast "order" of casting. First you refresh yourself, cast a couple spells, refresh someone else, cast a couple more, etc. When you're done, there's a small window of downtime when you don't have any refreshes to do: you can use this time to rest, or catch up to anything that's falling behind. The most painless way to do this is to use the Vana'diel clock (hit "/clock on" to get it on your screen). One in-game hour is approximately equivalent to the duration of Refresh. Here's an example situation:
- 8:00 - Puller is coming back with a crab. Begin casting Refresh on yourself. You'll have enough time for two spells here, so you can cast something like Dia II and Paralyze.
- 8:09 - The recast timer is up, start casting Refresh on the Paladin. Paralyze was resisted, so recast that along with Slow.
- 8:18 - Put Refresh on the White Mage. Again, you have time to squeeze two more spells in here.
- 8:27 - Final Refresh being cast on the Black Mage. The crab used Scissor Guard while you were casting, so you Dispel it right away.
- 8:30 - You have 30 Vana'diel minutes to kill. You can finish your enfeebles, use Drain/Aspir, help with curing, Magic Burst, etc, while watching for Dispels. You can also try to catch a tick or two of healing.
- 8:55 - get ready...
- 9:00 - Your Refresh is about to wear, so start casting it on yourself again.
You get the idea. Sound complicated? That's because it is. Refresh is one place where the good Red Mages are separated from the mediocre. Once you have this spell you're likely to be juggling half a dozen things at once, and it can be overwhelming. Keeping a static Refresh order and using the clock to help you can make it manageable. You don't need to keep a specific priority in this situation, because everyone will have Refresh always. Start from the top of the party list (that will be you), Refresh everyone in order from the top down that needs it. For players who don't need Refresh all the time, like a Dark Knight, just eyeball their MP once you finish the main cycle, and drop a Refresh on them at the end if they are getting low.
During this stage, you may find it helpful to put "/recast Refresh" in your Refresh macro to let you know how much time you have before the next cast. It will assist you in learning how much time you have to spare. However, don't pigeonhole yourself into a rigid system. For example, in the timed situation above, if you need to Dispel a buff or drop a heal on someone at the same time as a Refresh, let the Refresh slide, at least for a few seconds. Another 3-6 MP might not break a chain, but a Bubble Curtain cutting the Black Mage's nukes by 50% probably will. Be flexible.
The second stage of Refresh duty comes when you are comfortable casting the spell, usually in the late 50's. You don't really need to look at a /recast to figure out when the next Refresh is coming. Players are starting to have bigger MP pools, Dark Staff and Clear Mind III have entered the picture, more powerful equipment is available, and you have a little bit more flexibility. Many Red Mages at this point will prioritize certain jobs for Refresh:
- You. If you don't have Refresh, you can't do your job.
- Paladin. They have a small MP pool, can't rest in combat, and need cures and flash for hate.
- White Mage. They can rest in combat in a limited fashion, but Refresh gives them the MP they need for hasting and curing.
- Summoner. They can do a great deal of good for your party with Blood Pacts and avatars. Although they have a high Clear Mind skill, they can't rest with an avatar in play and often will be called on to heal.
- Blue Mage. They need MP to deal damage.
- Black Mage. In the grand scheme of things, 150MP doesn't mean much to a BLM dropping Tier III nukes and Ancient Magic, particularly since they regen a lot of MP while sitting and have many opportunities to do so. However, Refresh is like a standing Dark Staff to them, so they should be included unless you are overtaxed. A Black Mage can do more with 150 MP than you can with 40.
- Dark Knights. Encourage them to use their party-assisting Absorb spells, and discourage nuking outside of Magic Bursts. They won't need Refresh often, but they are melees and cannot rest, so they're going to rely on you to keep the MP flowing.
- Bards. If they are subbed /WHM or /RDM, Refresh gives them more MP to work with for healing and status cures. Generally they will have Ballad at least part of the time, but since they'll be canceling the effects when they put songs on the melees, keep an eye on their MP.
- Everyone else, as needed.
Understand that turning 40 MP into 150 for someone else is a excellent investment. Refusing to Refresh someone when you have the MP reserves to do so is not a good idea. The only time that priorities take effect is when your MP pool is almost empty and you won't have enough to Refresh everyone before Convert is up. In those situations where the XP chain is hanging in the balance (rare, but it happens), glance at the MP totals, and quickly decide who can use it the best. Use the list above as a rough idea, but know that the best Red Mages understand that the situation dictates the appropriate action, not a guide like this one.
Haste is a spell that we share with White Mages. It's similar to Refresh in many ways: it has a fixed duration (three minutes exactly), costs 40 MP, and has a fairly long recast time. It cuts weapon delay and reduces recast timers by around 15%.
Haste is useful for:
- Increasing the damage over time done by heavy melee DDs (including Dark Knight, Monk, Samurai, Dragoon, etc).
- Helping players who are slower at accumulating TP, allowing them to keep up with skillchains.
- Reducing the recast timer on spells; this is especially important for keeping hate (Flash) or damage mitigation (Utsusemi).
- Cancelling the effects of / giving immunity to Slow (except in certain cases, like Spider Web, an AOE slow).
However, Haste does not cut the timers on ranged attacks, so you don't need to put this on Rangers unless they need to swing their knives faster for some reason.
The first problem with Haste is MP consumption. Over-hasting can run you dry of MP in a hurry and cause downtime. Refusing the Haste is nearly as bad, especially in the case of Ninja tanks, who require Haste in order to effectively tank. The trick is to find a happy medium, the optimum level of hasting that will increase your party's chaining potential without draining your MP reserves.
The second problem with haste is timing. It's a 3-minute spell, meaning that if you are running a Refresh cycle, it will be displaced by 30 seconds every time. Eventually, that's going to cause a conflict. You can either deal with the conflicts as they arise, have the White Mage take care of Hasting (they get it at 40, you get it at 48, White Mages should be used to it by then), or deliberately short-circuit Haste's duration by re-applying it earlier than usual. It's important to communicate with your party members and find the best way to deal with haste timing.
There are several other corner uses for hasting, such as hasting yourself in a party. If you have 5-6 people to Refresh, hasting yourself will cut the recast timer of Refresh, allowing you to squeeze more "free" time at the end of the cycle to rest for MP or do other things. Whether this is worth the MP cost depends on the situation. Remember that if you do it once, you have to keep doing it, otherwise refreshes will start falling before you can deal with them.
It's not a bad idea to think about Haste the same way that you do free-nuking; they are both ways that Red Mages can directly speed up the flow of experience by spending MP. By the time you get this spell you'll already be well-acquainted with Convert and Refresh, and ought to be able to make a judgment call whether it's appropriate to spend the MP to cast. Every melee wants Haste, but only experience will tell you when they actually need it.
Convert is one of the Job Abilities that make us the envy of other mage classes. It's on a 10-minute timer, and will swap your current HP with your current MP. The primary use of Convert is for a "free" MP heal. Essentially you do all that you can with your pool of MP, and when you are down to the last few points, Convert. You'll wind up with a few HP and most likely a full MP bar. Cure yourself out of the red and you're ready to go again.
There are a couple schools of thought when it comes to Convert. Some people will do their best to try to run out of MP just as Convert is available, and use it to extend chains. Others save their Convert for emergency situations. Whichever method you choose to follow, there are a few things about Convert that you'll want to keep in mind:
- Convert will fail if you have 0 MP. You need to have at least 1MP left, or Convert will have no effect. The timer is not reset, however, so you can try again.
- Make sure to know how long Refresh has been up if you're going to Convert, so that you have the MP available to do the switch.
- If you Convert with an HP-draining status effect, such as Bio or Poison, you're likely to die. Either put up Stoneskin or get it cured first.
- Most undead will aggro to low HP and they have a large detection radius. Be careful about Converting when you're around them.
Dying after a Convert with full MP is pretty embarrassing, so try to be aware of your surroundings before you use it. Having 4 hitpoints and standing next to an XP mob with an AOE attack is an accident waiting to happen. You either need to Convert outside of battle, or run out of AOE range before you Convert. With a weak AOE like a crab's Bubble Shower, casting a fresh Stoneskin will keep you alive. Against powerful AOEs like a Goblin bomb or a Cursed Sphere from a Fly, Stoneskin will not absorb it all, so you MUST run out of range.
Something to remember when you heal after a Convert: dumping back-to-back Cure IV's on yourself might get you to full HP, but it will also get the monster's attention. You have 10 minutes to get yourself back to full, so unless you are in real danger of dying, it's OK to slowly Regen or Drain your way back to full after an initial Cure to come out of the red. If you think that there is any possibility of getting aggro, it's a good idea to put up Blink for a chance to absorb a hit. You may want to ask the WHM to give you a Regen II (or III) if they have it.
It's also possible to do a "ghetto Convert", which is when you use Convert with full MP in order to heal your HP. If you're on the run, can't stop to cure yourself, and need a quick heal, it's a valid strategy.
When you Convert, it's a good idea to equip all of your +MP items before you do. Most RDMs have more HP than MP (though Tarutaru can get a perfect 1:1 ratio fairly early), and you can use the MP immediately on spells that don't require +stat or +skill equipment. Good uses for the extra MP are healing yourself/others, Refresh, Haste, Dia II, etc. If you have a Convert macro, you can put the equipment swaps right into it, to make things easier.