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FFXIV Black Mage Job Guide (Patch 6.5)

The unspoken rule of Eorzea is that one might not cast Leyline without becoming the main target of every attack.

One of the most iconic characters in the Final Fantasy series, the Black Mage is a simple but extremely powerful job in Final Fantasy XIV. Originating in the Fifth Astral Era, the use of destructive magic spells is still a powerful weapon in the hands of Black Mages.  

Black Mage is a job built around a simple concept, making it a good choice for new players who want to avoid the hurdles of tanking or healing. However, it becomes effective as the game progresses as players engage in further improving their understanding of the job’s skills as well as the context of each fight.

How to unlock the Black Mage job in FFXIV

Before you can start learning your way into casting powerful spells, you must first unlock the Black Mage job. Just like other jobs in FFXIV, unlocking it requires that you have leveled up a specific class. To unlock Black Mage, you must have leveled Thaumaturge up to level 30. Then, you can go to Ul’dah – Steps of Nald at X: 7.3 Y: 12.4 to look for Yayake, the NPC from whom you get the quest ‘Taking the Black’. By completing it, you can start playing Black Mage.

An introduction to Black Mage in FFXIV

Black Mage is a simple job to understand and a very straightforward kit of abilities. Even so, there are important aspects of the job that you must thoroughly comprehend in order to improve your use of spells.

The main mechanic of the job revolves around the Astral Fire phase and the Umbral Ice phase. 

You start the first one when you use Fire III – or Fire when under level 35. Once in this phase, all spells of this aspect you cast – Fire, Fire II, Fire III, Fire IV, and Flare – have their MP cost, as well as their potency, increased. While you’re in the Astral Fire phase, you can’t naturally recover your MP. At the same time, all ice-aspected spells cost zero MP and have their cast time shortened if you have three stacks of Astral Fire. 

On the other hand, during the Umbral Ice phase, MP regeneration is quicker. By having three stacks of Umbra Ice, all your ice-aspected spells – Blizzard, Blizzard II, Blizzard III, Blizzard IV, and Freeze – cost no MP while the cast time for fire-aspected spells is reduced. 

Based on the interaction of these two phases, what you want when playing Black Mage is to focus on using your Fire skills until there is no MP left. Then, use a Blizzard skill to start regenerating MP. Each phase lasts for 15 seconds and their timer is reset whenever you use an aspected skill. In case you don’t cast a skill to reset the timer, the phase drops and you must start the Fire-Blizzard loop again. Although this might not seem an unsettling scenario, it might result in you having zero MP to use abilities, meaning you’re not dealing damage.

As you level up, this interaction becomes a little bit more complex after Fire IV and Blizzard IV are unlocked. Both skills don’t reset their respective phase-timers which means you need to calculate the exact number of Fire IV or Blizzard IV casts you can perform before you have the need to cast another skill to reset the timer or change phase. Since this discussion falls into the job’s rotation, it’s explained in more detail in another section in this guide.

Level 90 Black Mage skill rotation and opener

The opener we’re working with here is the standard one, which can be used for most fights. Depending on the situation, you might need to make changes to the opener in order to optimize its efficiency. 

Graphic of the Black Mage OpenerImage via Fanbyte

First, you should pay attention to the countdown before the pull so you can time your initial skills correctly.

  1. Sharpcast (-12 seconds)
  2. Fire III (-3 seconds)
  3. Thunder III
  4. Triplecast
  5. Fire IV
  6. Pot
  7. Fire IV
  8. Amplifier
  9. Ley Lines
  10. Fire IV
  11. Swiftcast
  12. Fire IV
  13. Triplecast
  14. Despair
  15. Manafont
  16. Fire IV
  17. Sharpcast
  18. Despair
  19. Blizzard
  20. Xenoglossy
  21. Paradox
  22. Blizzard IV
  23. Thunder III

As mentioned, this is a basic opener that you can use in most fights, but you might need to adapt it depending on the encounter. Otherwise, once you finish the opener, it’s time to begin the rotation phases. 

Still following the logic of using Fire spells to cause damage and Blizzard spells to recover resources, the single target rotation is as follows:

Astral Fire phase

  1. Fire III
  2. Fire IV
  3. Fire IV
  4. Fire IV
  5. Paradox
  6. Fire IV
  7. Fire IV
  8. Fire IV
  9. Despair

Umbral Ice phase

  1. Blizzard III
  2. Blizzard IV
  3. Paradox

Since, at the end of the opener, you have just finished an Umbral Ice phase, you should go for the Astral Fire phase. This rotation should be used in situations of fighting one or two enemies, always applying Thunder III to all of them. You should always remember to pop Ley Lines once they are out of cooldown. 

Now, when it comes to fighting three or more enemies, you should instead use Black Mage’s AoE rotation. At level 90, it goes as follows:

  1. High Blizzard II
  2. Freeze
  3. Thunder IV
  4. High Fire II
  5. High Fire II
  6. High Fire II
  7. Flare
  8. Flare

You can use Triplecast, Swiftcast, and Manafont to make your life easier and extend the rotation, adding more casts of Flare to it.

Common Black Mage challenges and the Job Gauge

The most challenging aspect of Black Mage is its mobility, or the lack of it. Most skills in this job’s kit require you to stay still whilst they are cast. If you move, the cast is canceled, and you must start it again. This characteristic of Black Mage’s skills makes it a hard job to play since you always need to find a safe place to cast your skills. A crucial aspect of playing Black Mage is to learn the fight you’re in and think about the boss’ rotation and where you can stay for as much time as possible so you can effectively deal damage. 

To help with mobility, you have a few tools at your disposal. The main one is Aetherial Manipulation which pulls you toward another player. You can also use abilities such as Triplecast and Swiftcast to get rid of the cast timer and instantly use any of your skills. Just keep in mind that you should study when the best time to use these skills is.

Another tool Black Mage has and you should pay attention to is its Job Gauge, the Elemental Gauge. Although all jobs have a gauge, Black Mage’s gauge is by far one of the most useful and filled with information. The Elemental Gauge assists you in keeping track of how much time left you have in each phase, Umbral Hearts stacks, Polyglot stacks, and Paradox. 

This is far from being an in-depth explanation of the class, but, by understanding its core, it’s easy to learn how Black Mage works and what should be your priorities during a fight. 

Black Mage procs and when to use them

A common doubt of players starting to play Black Mage is how to use the procs you get more effectively. 

When using Fire or at every tick of Thunder, you have the chance of gaining a proc of Fire III or Thunder III/Thunder IV. While the former, which lasts for 30 seconds, gives you the chance to use Fire III instantaneously with no MP cost, the latter lasts for 40 seconds and gives you an instant cast of Thunder, with no MP cost as well, and guaranteed max damage. 

In case you get any of these two procs, you want to analyze the situation before using them. The priority is to save them to be cast as you move in case staying where you are is not an option. Because you have no cast time with both, you can use them as the character walks. However, if you know moving is not necessary and they are about to expire, cast them so you don’t waste them. 

Black Mage food, pots, and gear – current for Patch 6.5

The attributes you should focus on to maximize this job’s damage output are Spell Speed, Critical Hit, and Determination. These are necessary to increase the number of criticals you land. 

In terms of gear,  the best pieces you can get to focus on landing criticals are a mix of Augmented Credendum and Ascension pieces as described in Etro. Even though they are two different sets, the method of acquiring them is by running Pandaemonium: Anabaseios Savage where you can get the books to exchange for the pieces or for Divine Twine, which is needed to upgrade the Tomestone gear. On the other hand, the consumables you want to use are easily found on the Market Board. As Black Mage, you want to use Grade 8 Intelligence Alkahest pots and the Baked Eggplant food, which increases your Critical Hit.

About the Author

Paulo Kawanishi

A freelance writer with works published in Polygon, Eurogamer, The Loadout, nad many others publications. He has a long list of games in his backlog, although he keeps looking for new ones to play.