Guide:BRD Ability Guide by Urthdigger

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CAUTION!

This article is only a guide. Information expressed in a guide is usually more opinion than fact and should be taken as such. Guides are written by players, based upon their experiences, successes and mistakes, and are meant to aid other players. However, there may be differing opinions than those expressed in a guide.
Strategies and information in guides may not work for everyone.

Welcome to my guide for Archer/Bard. Unlike other guides, this won't be focused on endgame. Rather, I will be going through each ability level by level covering the uses they have, and where to fit them into your rotation. This guide is based on the information on 4.0 received from the Media Tour and will be updated accordingly upon release. Likewise, I do not claim to be the best DPS ever, and I am always open to constructive criticism on how I can better use these abilities.

Basic Tips[edit]

Glossary[edit]

Following are a few terms that will be used over the course of these guide that new players to the game or MMOs in general may not be aware of. I won't be covering EVERY term, but this should hopefully help the guide make sense.

Ability: Abilities are skills that are off the Global Cooldown, instead having their own timer. You can use them in-between weaponskills/spells while the GCD is going, but there is a small delay before you can do something else, so you can only get one or two in depending on your skill/spell speed. Any more and you risking clipping your next GCD. These are also sometimes referred to as a "cooldown", as in "Use your defensive cooldowns."

Adds: Additional monsters that are summoned during a boss fight. Typically it's the job of the DPS to deal with them in light parties, while full parties may require an off-tank to tank them.

AoE: Area of Effect, any skill that hits more than one target. These are usually inefficient to use on single targets, and for most AoEs there will be a mention of how many monsters need to be hit before it's more efficient for damage over time, and damage per TP. These come in several types, players have either circular, conal, while monsters have these as well as "Donut" (Hitting everywhere except close to the monster) and Line (A narrow, long line in front of the monster.) Certain rarer types are used by specific monsters,

Cleave: A specific type of AoE, this is a conal attack targeted on the tank, and is common enough that tanks should generally avoid facing monsters towards the party for this reason. Many also come out instantly, so players can't dodge them.

Clipping: Some buffs and debuffs have a short enough recast that you can reapply them before they wear off. Clipping refers to reapplying the skill too early, wasting the duration of the skill. Generally these skills are less effective than direct damage/heal skills, so you want to use them as little as possible to keep the statuses up over the course of the fight. Clipping means you're using them more often instead of other, more useful skills, so try to avoid this. This is also used in terms of clipping a GCD, which means using an ability just before your GCD is up, delaying your next weaponskill/spell.

DoT: Damage over Time. These skills inflict a debuff that deals damage of a certain potency every 3 seconds. These are by far your most damaging attacks, BUT this is only true if they sit on the monster for long enough. Ideally you don't want to use these on monsters that will die soon, or re-apply them too soon.

DPS: Stands for "Damage per Second", but also typically used to mean classes whose job it is to deal as much DPS as they can. These classes are typically frail but hit hard.

GCD: Stands for Global Cooldown. This is used both for the cooldown itself (which varies in length based on your skill/spell speed, whichever your class uses), and for skills that use the Global Cooldown (Weaponskills and spells). Using any skill on it puts ALL the skills on it on cooldown, so you can't use them until they're available again, but Abilities ignore the Global Cooldown and CAN be used in-between.

Healer: This is a role whose primary role is to heal the party. They ARE capable of dealing damage, and should do so when they have nothing more pressing to do.

Limit Break: Also referred to as LB, this is an ability you can use when the party's limit bar fills up. It's shared across the whole party, so deciding who should use it and when is an important part of fight strategy. There's three levels, the max determined by party size and situation. Light parties get one bar, full parties get 2, and you get an extra bar during final bosses. For tanks, their LB massively increases the defense of every party member and is used to survive certain mechanics. Healers get an AoE heal that's fairly underwhelming except for level 3, when it becomes an AoE raise that can save the party from a wipe. Melee get a massive single target attack (great for bosses), magic ranged dps get an AoE that does large damage to groups (great for large trash pulls or dangerous adds), and physical ranged dps get a line AoE that's both harder to hit with and deals less damage than the magical version.

Mob: Short for... well, there's a few theories and it's unimportant. It's a term for monsters.

Potency: This dictates the power of your moves. Your auto-attack is functionally a 100 potency skill (though for mages it's considerably weaker than a 100 potency spell due to being str based for them.) Generally, potency can be thought of as a multiplier, so a 200 potency skill is twice as powerful as a 100 potency skill, and they can be added together, divided, and otherwise manipulated to determine which skills to use.

Proc: Short for process, it means when an effect takes place. Most of the time it's used to refer to additional effects that only have a chance of occurring to say that it actually went off.

Shared Role Action: This is one of 10 abilities you can set depending on your role. You have 5 slots, unlocked at levels 12, 20, 32, 40, and 48, and unlock new abilities as your level rises, but syncing to a lower level does not reduce your slots or actions, unlike standard actions.

Spell: One of the two types of GCD skills, spells have a cast time that they only take effect at the end of, and will be interrupted if you move, are knocked back, or take sufficient damage during. Most spells have a cast time similar to your GCD, but some are instant (which makes them handy for weaving Abilities in afterwards and allows them to even be used while moving), and others have considerably longer cast times (Usually intended to be used infrequently, or using a gimmick to lower the cast time)

Tank: This is a role designed to keep the rest of the party safe. They have high defense and skills to make monsters pay attention to them instead of squishier party members.

Tankbuster: This indicates a move that hits exceptionally hard, either as a cleave or a single-target, and should only hit the tank. They cannot be dodged, and some don't even have a cast time. Generally, the tank should be topped off, use defensive buffs, or the party should use a damage lowering debuff on the boss. Preferably more than one of these.

Weaponskill: One of the two types of GCD skills, Weaponskills tend to fire off instantly, and depending on your class may use combos and positionals (melee) or a proc system (ranged). They're governed by TP.

Playing Your Role[edit]

As a DPS, your primary goal is to deal as much damage as possible. This means maximizing how much damage you do per GCD you have available, while also making sure you don't run out of TP (Largely a concern only in AoE situations.) HOWEVER, this is not your ONLY priority. You're also a member of a group, and the success of the party takes precedence over your own numbers. Doesn't matter if you dealt the most damage if the party wipes in the end.

This is doubly important for your specific role, Physical Ranged DPS. This is the closest the game has to a dedicated support role, and many of your actions will buff the party in one way or another, especially your role actions.

As far as limit usage goes, as a physical ranged DPS you will usually be the last on the list as far as who should use it. Basically, if an AoE limit is required and you have no magical ranged DPS, it falls to you.

Lastly, as a DPS player, you'll also usually be called on to do fight-specific mechanics. Generally, the tank will need to keep the boss positioned properly to not cleave the party, and will have a difficult time interacting with objects as attacks interrupt them, while the healer will need to be always ready to heal. Some mechanics may also involve dodging specific attacks (and you should be trying to dodge everything regardless), or killing enemies in specific ways, which makes them your job even if the tank or healer are feeling generous.

For Bard in particular, your playstyle will revolve around keeping Straight Shot on yourself, and your two DoTs on whatever you're fighting. As you evolve from Archer to Bard, your DoTs will not only be your most potent attack, but will also power up your skills depending on which song you're singing when they crit.

So, in a nutshell your priorities are to dodge, do mechanics, buff the party, keep a song up whenever possible, keep up straight shot, inflict DoTs on the enemy, and then everything else, in that order. More detailed info on each ability will be below.

A Realm Reborn[edit]

Level 1: Heavy Shot[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 150

TP: 50

Potency/TP: 3

At this stage not much you can do but spam this. Even as you level up this will be your main attack when you have no buffs or debuffs to put up.

Level 2: Straight Shot[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 140

TP: 50

Potency/TP: 2.8

Effect: Increases Critical Hit Rate by 10%

Duration: 30 seconds

This deals less damage than Heavy Shot, but the buff is essential to your DPS. This should always be kept up.

So to refresh, begin with Straight Shot, then spam Heavy Shot until your buff runs out.

Level 4: Raging Strikes[edit]

Ability

Cooldown: 80 seconds

Effect: Increase damage dealt by 10%

Duration: 20 seconds

You can save this for occasions where you need to push a boss through a phase very fast, or for using AoE on large packs of monsters when your damage benefits the most from a multiplicative boost, but for the most part (and especially early on), you should juse use it whenever it's up. As it's an ability, you can use it in-between weaponskills while the global cooldown is active.

Level 6: Venomous Bite[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 100 + (40 * 6) = 340

TP: 60

Potency/TP: 5.6

This is by far your most damaging weaponskill at this point if allowed to run for the entire duration. Put up your buffs (Raging Strikes and Straight Shot at this level), then fire this off and refresh it every time it hits 3 seconds or less.

So, to refresh, begin with Straight Shot, then Raging Strikes, then Venomous Bite, then spam Heavy Shot until it's time to refresh buffs.

Level 8: Heavier Shot[edit]

Now whenever you use Heavy Shot, there is a 20% chance that your next Straight Shot will crit automatically. Whenever this procs, use Straight Shot instead of Heavy Shot next.

So, to refresh, begin with Straight Shot, then Raging Strikes, then Venomous Bite, then spam Heavy Shot until it's time to refresh buffs, using Straight Shot instead whenever it procs (and hopefully only needing to worry about manually refreshing Venomous Bite)

Level 8: Second Wind[edit]

Shared Ability

Cooldown: 120 seconds

Effect: Heals self for 500 potency

This is quite useful when soloing or to recover after AoE attacks, but in a party with a decent healer this may see little use.

Level 10: Misery's End[edit]

Ability

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 190

Cooldown: 12 seconds

This ability has an extremely short recast, and is completely free, not even costing a GCD as it's an ability. The only catch is, it can only be used when the monster has less than 20% HP. Use this whenever it's available.

Level 12: Bloodletter[edit]

Ability

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 130

Cooldown: 15 seconds

Like Misery's End, just use this whenever it's available. Longer cooldown, but no restrictions on when it can be used.

Level 12: Foot Graze[edit]

Shared Ability

Range: 25 yalms

Cooldown: 30 seconds

Effect: Binds target for 10 seconds

Of limited use in party situations, it's mostly used to get some distance between you and a monster for solo play, but there may be the occasional boss mechanic where this is useful. If utilized in a party, communication with party members is required as any direct damage will remove it instantly.

Level 15: Repelling Shot[edit]

Ability

Range: 5 yalms

Effect: Jumps 10 yalms back

Cooldown: 30 seconds This ability makes you jump 10 yalms backwards. That's it. No damage or additional effects. There's a few niche uses such as getting out of AoE more quickly or when solo to put room between you and something you're kiting, but that's about it. Additionally, its low range means it can't be utilized for dodging AoE unless you're in melee range.

Level 16: Leg Graze[edit]

Shared Ability

Range: 25 yalms

Cooldown: 30 seconds

Effect: Inflicts Heavy +40% to target for 10 seconds

Just like Foot Graze, it's mostly for survivability when solo, but can be useful for dealing with mechanics where you don't want a monster to reach something, and either still wish to damage it or cannot bind it.

Level 18: Quick Nock[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 12 yalms

Radius: 12 yalms

Potency: 110 (AoE)

TP: 120

Potency/TP: 0.91 per Mob

Breakpoints: 2 mobs for more potency/GCD, 4+ for more potency/TP

Your first AoE! Technically exceeds the damage of your other abilities at 2 mobs, you really only want to use this on 3+, and even then you ought to apply Venomous Bite before going spamming this. At 4+ monsters you can ignore using DoTs, and incidentally this is also when it becomes more TP efficient than using single target damage.

It should be noted that this is a 12 yalm cone from in front of you. You'll need to be closer than other abilities, and positioning is important to ensure most/all of the enemies are in front of you.

Level 20: Peloton[edit]

Shared Ability

Radius: 20 yalms

Cooldown: 5 seconds

Effect: Increases movement speed of self and party for 30 seconds.

This increases movement speed for you and your party. It cannot be used in battle, so it's merely for moving between fights faster. That said, most dungeon parties appreciate this used after every fight.

Level 24: Invigorate[edit]

Shared Ability

Cooldown: 120 seconds

Effect: Restores 400 TP.

This is invaluable for spamming Quick Knock, but is otherwise unnecessary unless a boss fight drags on for way too long.

Level 30: Windbite[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 60 + (50 * 6) = 360

TP: 60

Potency/TP: 6

As with Venomous Bite, this is an extremely powerful attack if it runs its full duration. Try to refresh it whenever it has 3 seconds or less, and make sure you at least have Straight Shot up when you do so.

So, to refresh, begin with Straight Shot, Raging Strikes if available, then Windbite, then Venomous Bite, then spam Heavy Shot until it's time to refresh buffs, using Straight Shot instead whenever it procs (and hopefully only needing to worry about manually refreshing your DoTs)

Level 30: Mage's Ballad[edit]

Spell

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 100

Effect: Increases Crit Hit Rate by 2% for all party members within 20 yalms. Refreshes Bloodletter on DoT crits.

MP: 0

Cast Time: Instant

Recast Time: 80 seconds

You'll want to use this whenever it's available partly for the party buff, but also for its secondary ability: Any time Venomous Bite or Windbite's DoT crits it resets Bloodletter's cooldown. This makes keeping your DoTs up and ensure Straight Shot is active when applying them all the more important.

Level 32: Tactician[edit]

Shared Ability

Radius: 20 yalms

Cooldown: 180 seconds

Effect: Gradually restores TP of yourself and all party members in range.

This is vital for melee heavy parties, especially ones using AoE attacks. On top of that, it halves your current enmity, allowing your tank more freedom to use damage combos instead of enmity ones.

Level 35: Foe Requiem[edit]

Spell

Radius: 20 yalms

Effect: Increases damage taken by nearby enemies by 3%. Slowly drains MP.

This should be used whenever possible to increase the damage of yourself and your fellow party members. As it's a debuff inflicted to the enemy, this even extends to alliance members or even completely unrelated parties in open world content.

Level 36: Refresh[edit]

Shared Ability

Radius: 20 yalms

Cooldown: 180 seconds

This is vital for mage heavy parties, especially ones using AoE attacks. On top of that, it halves your current enmity, allowing your tank more freedom to use damage combos instead of enmity ones.

Level 38: Barrage[edit]

Ability

Cooldown: 80 seconds

Effect: Triples the strikes for a single-target weaponskill.

Duration: 10 seconds

You want to use this on your most potent single target attack. As this doesn't help your DoTs, you should use it for procced Straight Shot attacks (The guaranteed crit DOES carry over to all 3 hits) any time this is up.

Level 40: Head Graze[edit]

Shared Ability

Range: 25 yalms

Cooldown: 30 seconds

Effect: Silences a target for 1 second.

The silence is only one second, so it's more to interrupt enemy spells. Plenty of monsters are immune to stun, but can be inflicted with this, making it vital for some fights.

Level 40: Army's Paeon[edit]

Spell

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 100

Effect: Increases Crit Hit Rate by 2% for all party members within 20 yalms. Makes all non-ability timers faster by 4% after every DoT crit, up to 16%

MP: 0

Cast Time: Instant

Recast Time: 80 seconds

The main effect is just like Mage's Ballad, and only one of the two can be kept up at one time (though you can sing this once Ballad runs out, to effectively keep the crit buff for 60 out of every 80 seconds). The one difference is that now when your two DoTs crit, you gain a stack of Repertoire on your gauge. This reduces cast and recast times, and increases auto-attack speed all by 4% for each stack, for 16% total. Unfortunately this only affects yourself, but it's still an indirect 16% boost to your damage once fully powered, so long as you don't run out of TP.

Level 44: Arm Graze[edit]

Shared Ability

Range: 5 yalms

Cooldown: 30 seconds

Effect: Stuns target for 2 seconds.

Like Head Graze, this is intended to interrupt abilities. Use this for weaponskills (When the monster readies a move instead of begins casting), or for spells if the monster is immune to silence. Of note, the reduced range means you must be in melee range to execute this.

Level 45: Rain of Death[edit]

Ability

Range: 25 yalms

Radius: 8 yalms

Potency: 100 (AoE)

Cooldown: 15 seconds

This ability has a 15-second recast like Bloodletter, and actually shares a recast with it (So DoT crits under Mage's Ballad will reset this as well). Use this over Bloodletter whenever facing 2+ monsters.

At this point your AoE rotation changes. You should try to time Mage's Ballad so you have it available for trash pulls (I.E. don't use it right at the end of a boss fight), and when Ballad is put both DoTs up on a couple monsters with Straight Shot up and just spam this alongside Quick Nock and refreshing DoTs.

Level 48: Palisade[edit]

Shared Ability

Range: 30 yalms

Cooldown: 150 seconds

Effect: Reduces physical damage taken by a party member by 20%

Use this on the tank before a tankbuster goes out to really help them out. The lengthy recast means you won't be able to do this on every tankbuster, but every 3 minutes you can make the recovery afterwards that much easier.

Level 50: Battle Voice[edit]

Ability

Radius: 20 yalms

Cooldown: 180 seconds

Effect: Increases Direct Hit Rate of all party members in range by 15%.

Use this any time you have songs up and have the opportunity to pour out a lot of damage, such as trash pulls or during DPS checks on bosses.

Heavensward[edit]

Level 52: The Wanderer's Minuet[edit]

Spell

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 100

Effect: Increases Crit Hit Rate by 2% for all party members within 20 yalms. Powers up Pitch Perfect after every DoT crit, up to 3 stacks.

MP: 0

Cast Time: Instant

Recast Time: 80 seconds

Your third and final bard song, this largely functions the same as the other 2 (and is also affected by Battle Voice). The difference is that when your DoTs inflict a critical hit, you gain a stack of Repertoire(you can hold up to 3) on your gauge, which allows you to use Pitch Perfect. Also of note, with this final song you can always have a song up, making the critical hit bonus effectively permanent. As this powers up a single target attack, this is more suited for boss fights than trash pulls.

Level 52: Pitch Perfect[edit]

Ability

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 100, 240, or 420

Cooldown: 3 seconds

This ability has a 3-second recast, but usage is truly gated behind getting notes from The Wanderer's Minuet. As you build up to 3 notes, this becomes stronger and stronger, capping out at 420 potency of free damage at 3 notes. As each subsequent note adds more than the previous did, you're encouraged to wait until you have 3. All repertoire stacks will be wiped upon using this, or if Wanderer's Minuet ends, so try to use whatever stacks you have before it ends.

Level 54: Empyreal Arrow[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 230

TP: 50

Potency/TP: 4.6

Cooldown: 6 * GCD

This weaponskill has an interesting recast, being 6x your GCD. It still requires your GCD to be active, and sets a normal GCD timer upon use, As your new most potent weaponskill, you should always be using this with Barrage. Other than that, your rotation remains the same, aside from replacing Heavy Shot with this whenever it is up.

Level 56: Iron Jaws[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 100 + (40 * 6) + (50 * 6) = 640

TP: 50

Potency/TP: 12.8

Effect Refreshes Venomous Bite and Windbite

Simply use this whenever your DoT with the lowest duration is at 3 or less seconds rather than using the skill that initially applied it. It should be noted that if either debuff falls off, this won't re-apply them, so if you have to choose between clipping or letting it fall off, err on the side of clipping.

Level 58: The Warden's Paean[edit]

Ability

Range: 30 yalms

Cooldown: 45 seconds

Effect: Erases one debuff from a party member or pet. If they are not enfeebled, prevents the next cleansable debuff within the next 30 seconds.

At this point, you're now the most effective person for removing annoying debuffs from people. The recast won't let you do it EVERY time, but unlike the healers you can remove it for free, not even costing a GCD.

Level 60: Sidewinder[edit]

Ability

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 260

Cooldown: 60 seconds

This ability deals 100 potency normally, 175 potency with 1 DoT up, and 260 with 2 DoTs up. You should always have both of your DoTs up, both for the massive extra damage and the procs for your songs, so it's a free 260 potency every minute.

Stormblood[edit]

Level 62: Troubador[edit]

Ability

Radius: 20 yalms

Cooldown: 180 seconds

Effect: Adds an additional effect to the current song: Mage's Ballad increases max HP by 15%, Army's Paeon reduces physical vulnerability by 10%, and Wanderer's Minuet reduces magic vulnerability by 10%.

Where Battle Voice gaved added offense, this grants added defense to your songs. Try to use this for heavy damage situations like large pulls. Paeon and Minuet actually reduce damage taken, but one must know whether it's physical or magical damage. Ballad simply gives the healer more wiggle room, but works regardless of foe.

Level 64: Bite Mastery[edit]

This upgrades Venomous Bite and Windbite, replacing the old skills with new ones.

Level 64: Caustic Bite[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 120 + (45 * 6) = 390 (270)

TP: 60

Potency/TP: 6.5

An upgraded Venomous Bite, acts like Venomous Bite in every way, including interactions with songs and Iron Jaws.

Level 64: Stormbite[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 120 + (55 * 6) = 450 (330)

TP: 7.5

Potency/TP: 6 An upgraded Windbite, acts like Windbite in every way, including interactions with songs and Iron Jaws. Also, with these DoTs upgraded, Iron Jaws now does 700 potency, 14 per TP.

Level 66: Nature's Minne[edit]

Ability

Range: 30 yalms

Cooldown: 45 seconds

Effect: Increases HP recovery via healing magic for target party member by 20% for 15 seconds.

Use this if the tank needs a hand or someone gets marked for a damaging mechanic. Do note that it only helps healing MAGIC received, HP recovery from skills like Second Wind or Bloodbath are unaffected.

Level 68: Enhanced Empyreal Arrow[edit]

Every time you use Empyreal Arrow, your bardsongs will react as if one of your DoTs had just crit.

Level 70: Refulgent Arrow[edit]

Weaponskill

Range: 25 yalms

Potency: 300

This weaponskill deals a massive 300 damage, with a catch: It can only be used when under the effect of Straighter Shot, the buff that makes your next Straight Shot deal critical damage. Generally you'll want to use this over Straight Shot unless your buff is close to expiring, and this happens to be ready when Barrage becomes available you should pair them up together. Don't go holding onto Barrage hoping for a proc though, use it on Empyreal Arrow if Refulgent Arrow isn't ready at the time.

In Summary[edit]

First thing you should do is put up songs, then Straight Shot, then your two DoTs. Foe Requiem, Raging Strikes, and Battle Voice should pretty much be used whenever they're available.

Beyond that, for solo targets you want to spam Heavy Shot, using Refulgent Arrow when Straighter Shot procs, unless Straight Shot is getting low. Keep cycling songs to keep one up at all times, and refresh your DoTs and Straight Shot. In-between GCDs use Bloodletter and Sidewinder whenever they're up, and use Barrage just before Empyreal Arrow or Refulgent arrow if the timing works out.

For packs of monsters, spread your DoTs out to a few targets and spam Rain of Death if you have Mage's Ballad up, otherwise just DoT one or two and spam Quick Nock. Keep cycling songs to keep one up at all times, and refresh your DoTs and Straight Shot Use Rain of Death and Sidewinder (On one of your DoT targets) whenever they're up, use Barrage on Empyreal Arrow.

Lastly, you'll want to keep your defensive cooldowns handy. Toss Paean on any annoying debuffs, and use Troubador or Minne to help large pulls or powerful tank busters (Troubador also comes in handy for strong undodgeable AoE attacks)

Role Action Selection[edit]

Your choice of role action is an important part of playing the job, and while none of them are truly useless, it's true that some are more important than others. For parties you'll typically want Second Wind to help the healer, Peloton to make the jog between groups faster, Invigorate for AoE pulls, Tactician and/or Refresh to help your allies with the aforementioned AoE pulls.

Depending on the fight you may wish to slot in Head Graze or Arm Graze for interrupts, Palisade to help the tank with tankbusters, or Leg/Foot Graze to interfere with enemy movement mechanics.

Remember that Role actions can be switched up any time you're not in combat. If you need more than 5 abilities for the whole dungeon, you can easily change your loadout before and after bosses for mechanics.