It sure has been awhile but recently I’ve decided to begin a series of short guides that detail Gladiator stuff. I don’t know when I’ll get the next one up but I’ve decided to post this one for all to see. Feel free to critique…
Hello everyone! This is the first part in a mini-series of posts where I will discuss how Gladiator functions within Final Fantasy XIV. This particular guide will focus on basic strategies for tanking.
Gladiator’s main specialization is reducing damage versus mobs that deal physical damage and its ability to do so is set far apart from all other classes, including Thaumaturge. As an end game Gladiator your primary task in party is to keep the mob’s attention (enmity) and reduce your incoming damage to ease the burden of your mages, freeing up their MP to perform other tasks. To achieve the perfect blend of both, this guide will highlight gear, attribute setups, and abilities and general rotations (“rots”) for ability use.
My hope is that this guide will assist to improve the Gladiators in the guild and as a result enhance how we kill mobs now and forever.
Before you can even think of hitting the battlefield, you are gonna need some gear! At the moment, FFXIV has a very thin gear selection and so this section is more of a no-brainer really, but it’s here to be updated and expanded upon later as new stuff becomes available. Remember that this is the tanking guide and so I will list out the best gear for taking physical damage. You’re not trying to DPS in this stuff, nor should you try, so don’t scoff at the loss of attributes for that purpose. You want Def, VIT, and MDef and here’s how you get there:
The Vintage Kite Shield (VKS) is arguably the best shield you can use properly, but there are those who prefer the Decorated Iron Scutum (DIS). The reason many prefer a VKS is due to its higher Wield Rate (WR). The WR represents how long the shield stays raised when using the basic “Guard” ability. The DIS has a WR of 10, while the VKS has a WR of 12. It’s not a major difference, but when you use the trait Self-Preservation, you get 18s of Guard with a VKS over DIS’s 15s. It’s really a personal preference because there isn’t a huge need to use Guard. The DIS has better defensive stats than the VKS so you can go with that if you like.
Head: Iron Celata (it’s pretty cheap to get a HQ version of this)
Body: Iron Cuirass
Hands: Iron Gauntlets
Legs: Tarred Leather Trousers (Blue) (top VIT+ and defense on any pants)
Feet: Iron Sabatons
Waist: Iron Plate Belt
Rings: Heliodor Ring x3
These items are best in slot (BiS) for physical defense. Plate armor offers a decent amount of mDef as well, but nothing out of this world. Unfortunately there isn’t a very good set of gear for reducing magical damage but there are several other ways to do it (abilities) which will be touched upon later.
So now you’ve got your gear but you don’t have your stats setup yet. To put it simply, you want VIT. That’s it, just VIT! I have mine at 174, which is considered the current “cap” for any attribute. You can either base stat your VIT at 174 with point allocation or you can set it at whatever 174 – (gear bonus) is. With the above set, which gives VIT+33, you can set your VIT at 141 if you are so inclined. Keep in mind however that only pure VIT from point allocation provides HP bonus, but additional VIT from gear and conversion traits will be accounted for in damage reduction formulas [SOURCE NEEDED].
Now we are going to start talking some serious strategy. Traits are what will give you the little extra on cross-classes abilities as well as provide additional effects that you desire depending on the role you are playing. Since we are focusing just on tanking in this guide, the following abilities are an absolute must for tanking and these are my mainstays. There are some exceptions as well, which will be highlighted below in the supplemental section.
Firm Conviction [4 points]
Because there will be times when you want to cast, and shield abilities will not proc during casting, this trait will allow you to increase defense during that time. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and while the defense added isn’t some crazy amount, the damage reduction over times matters. You can swap this trait for sometimes else from the supplemental section below if you wish.
Prime Conditioning [4 points]
Currently this is the only trait that increases the effective of healing. It works on Second Wind, Cure and Sacrifice spells. It might even work on the Speed Surge added effect but I’ve never actually tried to test it; presumably it does [NEEDS CONFIRMATION]. This trait has actually saved my life. Adding a flat 10% to healing effects on you is just indispensable. While you can swap this one out, I wouldn’t make it the first on the list to exchange for another trait.
Self-Preservation [4 points]
This is perfect for filling “the shield gap”, which we will discuss in a rot later. Don’t remove this from your bar, ever.
Intimidation [3 points]
Adding +10 enmity (or 10%) to each action is another indispensable aspect to provide your tank with. If you want to argue that, I assure you you will end up on the losing end of that discussion. Set it and forget it my friend.
Transcendence [3 points]
Transcendence is the first cross-class trait I recommend equipping. On the standard Gladiator tanking setup, you’ll be using quite a few THM abilities that are worth making sure you’re getting the best use out of. This will come into play a bit later.
Seasoned Veteran [3 points]
Seasoned Veteran is another fantastic ability. Most would play it off like it isn’t useful, but keep in mind that these cross-class traits increase affinity by +10 or 10%, bringing your affinity to 80 when cross-classed (or 4/5th of what it is main class). That’s almost a 15% increase over what you would normally get out of using a cross-classes ability (base affinity 70; 10/70=14.2%). No, you won’t be using Second Wind, but since Accomplice is such an important part of enmity control (explained later), you’ll be able to grab that extra 14.2% of enmity than normal. It might even increase Featherfoot dodge proc rate, but that’s really difficult to parse without a large investment of time.
Now, since I believe that everyone has their own personal play styles and we all deviate a bit from the norm, I’m throwing these in here for some consideration as well…
Axemanship [3 points]
This is a very worthy addition to any trait set that runs heavy MRD-based actions. Warmonger and Defender II are primary tanking abilities and so you might find this of some use. The reason I’ve not included it as one of my mainstays is because Warmonger has a very long recast that is not reduced much by using the trait. Defender II is a one-time use that lasts for 30mins, so if you really want to micro-manage something like that, you could set Axemanship, use Defender II, then remove Axemanship for something else (in theory this works, but confirmation would be needed). Still, if you prefer to use Axemanship, cool. It might work well in your build.
Fastcast [3 points]
I’ve toyed around with this for sometime, but I didn’t find it very useful. If you play Gladiator in a more Paladin-esque fashion than I, you might put this in place of or in addition to Firm Conviction. The pair is a good match for tanking, but they work against each other too. It’s up to you if you want to equip this, I didn’t find it very useful.
Pikemanship [3 points]
If you are the kind of tank that likes to Diversion often, this might be up your alley. I personally don’t use it for all mobs, but I might be inclined to include it on my bar on certain mobs like Uraeus or Great Buffalo if we were down to a single mage. The extra recast reduction to Diversion might not be worth it and I cannot comment on it increasing the proc rate.
Abilities come in two primary flavors, as described above, for Gladiator, but there is a third type–support. Unfortunately to really get the maximum benefit of the class, you do need to rank up others (as with most anything in FFXIV). Luckily, this isn’t very difficult at this time and so it is expected that players who want to play at the apex of this or any class will work toward obtaining all the necessary tools to maximize output. Gladiator is one of those classes that borrows well from others for tanking. Here’s the breakdown of abilities and how to use them!
What would a tank be if it couldn’t generate enmity? A really bad DPS, that’s what. Read on for tips and tricks for upping your H-factor (that’s tank-speak for Hate).
Well, it says it increases enmity, so I’m throwing it in this section rather than elsewhere. Heavy Stab is your primary basic attack and no other one should be used, ever, regardless of what you’re doing on Gladiator. Heavy Stab is very accurate and will help you keep your TP up. Use it sparingly however as your stamina on Gladiator is very crucial.
One of your two primary abilities for gaining enmity. Not only does Provoke allow you to generate hate that didn’t exist before, but it also acts like a true hate-pull, giving the mob an effect that grabs its attention for 1-5s.
See Provoke II. I don’t use this often because of rots, but when I have extra time between rots and the stamina to toss out, I use it. Helps to have Seasons Veteran equipped for just those occasions too.
Use this every single time you can. Since we don’t yet have a hate meter, the use of Accomplice is actually beyond the scope of this “basic” guide. What I will tell you now though is that as a tank you will have to “feel’ out where the hate is. This will require some attention on your part. If there’s a THM stacking debuffs like crazy (which is typical in a 2-mage party and builds TONS of enmity), use it on them. The other target for this is generally either the point-man assigned to put the weapon skill on BR stack#1 or the best equipped player with the weapon that has a damage type the mob is weak to (for example: ARC or LNC on Uraeus). Use this wisely, but don’t waste too much time thinking about your target since the proximity is small. Any hate you take from other members is hate you are recycling within the party onto yourself. This lets your melee be much more free in their damage dealing and can give you increased confidence as a tank. Accomplice is very complex, but just use it as you see fit and don’t worry too much about the most efficient way to use it outside of the basic described above.
Gladiator’s natural AoE taunt which comes from the shield. it’s got a low cooldown timer and generates a nice chunk of enmity. Equip this when there are multiple targets and you are capable of taking all their hits (which you should be based on the descriptions of damage reducing abilities below).
MRD’s AoE taunt. Long-ass cooldown when cross-classes so don’t rely on this too much. Warmonger is a great opener for a fight because it inflicts mobs with Enrage, which enhances how much enmity you generate toward them and it also give you an effect where you generate additional threat with all actions. This really seals the deal on mob hordes in controlled environments.
All the abilities in the section have but one theme: Damage Reduction! They are use in very specific rotations or mix-ups and it is important that you read on to learn about these in the next section.
Believe it or not, Featherfoot is one of the best abilities in the game for reducing physical damage. It even works on AoE weapon skills that mobs use like Heavy Stomp (Uraeus), Buffalo’s basic attack stomp, and stuff like that. Since it has a short animation start-up time and very low stamina, it is easy to use on telegraphed mob weapon skills to have a high chance to evade them.
Aegis Boon II
Aegis Boon is the first in a line of very broken (and by broken I mean insanely overpowered) shield abilities. When this procs, instead of losing HP, you gain the HP you would have taken in damage instead.
Deflection is the next incredibly overpowered shield ability you obtain. Unlike Aegis Boon, Deflection simply reduces damage a great deal on a successful block. A mob that might have hit you for 1000 might deal as little as 0 damage, but it depends on your defense again said attack. Often you will see 0 damage on blocks because Deflection reduces such a significant amount of damage. This is pretty close to Utsusemi ability from FFXI. This ability is so god damn good.
Many of us probably saw this ability and overlooked it when we got it, and we were all wrong to do so. Outmaneuver is a great ability. While it isn’t exactly like Sentinel and only work on frontal attacks (which is no real limitation at all anyway), it enhances your defense by a crapton. It won’t reduce damage to 0 or make you gain HP, but is very good when stacked with Sentinel to reduce damage taken down to nothing. When ABII or Deflection aren’t up, you should be using this or Guard, with this having priority.
The single best non-shield raising damage reducing ability in the game. Use it every time it’s up except when Deflection and Aegis Boon are active (you should be able to see the logic to this). Generally I stack this with either Obsess or Outmaneuver. Only lasts 15s, but it’s a very good 15s…
sex against magic damage and it lasts a whole god damn minute. This will get nerfed eventually but for now it is the most crucial DR ability in the game. Works nearly as good cross-class and is one of the most important reason to use Transcendence in your trait build. Works on all things “aspect” based, including basic and ranged attacks in addition to magic basic attacks and magic spell damage. Will not reduce the effect of elemental DoTs afaik.
Very good magic reduction ability. Unfortunately it has a 5minutes recast which lessens the glamor of having it. Sometimes I swap this out of something else like Tempered Will or an additional weapon skill to use for incapacitation (like Flashfreeze II or Spinstroke II)
Similar to Outmaneuver in defense, but will not raise your shield into guard mode. It’s yet another level of protection to add between Sentinel/Outmaneuver rot (more later). DO NOT use this ability when attempting to tank multiple targets as it will decrease your defense versus the targets you did not use Obsess on. That makes reducing damage counter-intuitive.
Personally I think this ability is broken (probably because “Elemental Resistances” does like nothing), but I use it in a rot with Rampart II on mobs with magical-based attacks when Emulate is not up just yet and I do not want to use Sentinel to fill the gap.
A very cool ability that does just what it says. You can think of it like featherfoot that use 250 TP.
This is kind of a silly ability to put on your bar, but if you’ve got points, be my guest! Note that employing a decoy will cost you 250 TP, which is easy enough to get through a single Siphon TP.
Really great ability to have because it’s sustained. You hit it once and it lasts like 30mins. It has a toggle mode so be careful not to hit it during battle otherwise you’ll have to wait for the 30s cooldown to activate it again. Keep in mind that it will reduce magic attack power and potency though, making Siphon TP/MP effects lessened. This isn’t a major problem though so don’t be worried. This ability is also the only constant way to increase your magic defense. Just be glad it doesn’t reduce your accuracy!
The spells and abilities in this section are to be used as-needed. They provide some nice support for both the gladiator and group simultaneously.
Sacrifice III / Cure III
I believe every tank should have at least one heal spell on their bar for “oh shit!” situations. This are the ones and you should only need to pick one. Cure III is great, but Sacrifice III is more efficient on MP and grants more HP over time. The regen effect won’t matter too much in the end since it will be overwritten by your healer’s anyway. The one catch to Sacrifice III is you need HP to cast it. Cure III on the other hand makes life a bit more straightforward and will not overwrite any current Regen effects already on you.
Siphon TP on a tank serves about the same purposes as it does for a mage. The first purpose is to interrupt a mob ability. Much like Twisting Vice, you can time this spell to snag a mob’s TP and stop it from using a skill that could do a lot of damage. The timing’s tricky but with little or no lag, you can do it. The second purpose for this is to gain TP to Flashfreeze II for incapacitation effect on certain mobs OR to use Diversion.
Siphon MP II
If you plan on using MP in any of your fights, I highly recommend having this equipped. A word of warning on this spell however–NMs only have a certain amount of MP and mages rely on this spell to steal said MP from those mobs. As a tank, you should really work to manage your MP for the course of fight (approximately 10mins) and allow mages to Siphon MP NMs instead. Use this with caution and definitely not every minute.
These are just fun and should be tossed every time they’re ready for the extra damage. Often I wait to use defensive abilities and pop this so I am taking full damage and the mob is doing all that damage right back to them. Once it wears off, pop Deflection and continues standard rots.
A tricky little ability that currently has limited use in party situations. Contagion transfers a single debuff on you to the target. This is really useful for throwing Diremite slow back on them and stuff like that. Use your brain and figure out what mobs this might be good for (maybe giving Buffalo back his Weight effect!).
A very simple, and inaccurate, weapon skill that belongs on bars because it’s useful in a clutch. On hit, FF auto-incapacitates a mob to its prone state. Currently this only works on Great Buffalo but it can incap. body parts if used from the correct angle as well (like Haughtpox Bloatbelly’s legs or arms).
Like with any class, it’s not just about what tricks you have in your bag, but how you use them (no, this is not a penis joke). It is important that you understand how to properly use ability rotations (“rots”) to execute your battle plan. Rots are basically another way of prioritizing the order of ability use in combat. Your best abilities are used first followed by the next best ability, so on and so forth. Here’s a few rots and when and why to use them:
1. Shield Rotation: This rot is your defensive aspect and equal attention should be paid to it as your enmity rot. It allows you to reduce your damage to the minimum amount you are required to take. The shield rot is as follows…
- Deflection > Aegis Boon II > Outmaneuver + Sentinel/Obsess II > Guard + Sentinel/Obsess II
- Deflection, Aegis Boon II, and Outmaneuver are known as “the big three” to me.
2. Enmity Rotation: This rot is main enmity enhancing rot and it takes two forms…
- Single Mob: Provoke II/Taunt II > Accomplice > Warmonger
- On single target mobs the emphasis is on generating as much threat onto yourself.
- Horde Mobs: Warmonger > War Drum > Accomplice > Provoke II > Taunt II
- On horde mobs (many targets), your priority is to draw all their attention. This rot is difficult to describe because you have to consider recast times. AoE enmity abilities have very long recast times and so what you will be doing is cycling through mobs with Provoke and Taunt between those recast timers in order to keep hate going. Since melee will generally be using AoE abilities to damage all mobs in range, cycling Accomplice in before those will shed hate off multiple targets and onto you, making it a better choice than a single target enmity ability. This is reflected in the rot by placing Accomplice between the two different types.
3. Physical Damage Reduction Rotation: This is the order of abilities when trying to mitigate damage/single attacks in addition to shield abilities. Use these at opportune times, such as when you don’t have any of the big three ready to go (rare), or when you have stamina left over for them (fairly common). Remember that we consider this rot to be “layered” over your shield rotation; not as a replacement for.
- Featherfoot > Sentinel > Obsess II > Diversion
4. MDef Rotation: This one’s pretty simple and I don’t think I need to explain much further than this…
- Emulate (should remain on at all times when needed) > Rampart II/Tempered Will
- Everything after Emulate is used while waiting for it to cooldown once the effect has worn off.
- Credit to Stu Foo@Figaro for this one: You can use Sentinel to fill the gap between Emulate coolddown.
Please keep in mind that when you are asked to tank, do just that. Do not try to be all fancy and DPS, heal yourself, and all that other stuff–just tank. This is what Gladiator does best and it is recognized very highly. If you can just focus on tanking, then the rest of the raid will go smoothly. Let your melee DPS and your mages heal and everything will be all good. Sometimes it’s tough to let go and we get caught up trying to play this class as if we’re solo (which it is also very capable of), but when in a part we all have to trust the other 7 members and that will make us into a solid team.
I am also not so silly to think that there is only one way to skin a cat when it comes to tanking. Another possible way of tanking includes utilizing Phalanx II in your rotation. This will require a number of changes to the above guide, but here they are succinctly.
- Swap Heliodor Rings for Darksilver Ring. These will provide Accuracy and Magic Accuracy as well. You can consider other accuracy gear but I advise against it as currently those pieces have far less Defense on them than Iron Plate set.
- Consider swapping attributes around a bit since your rings/other gear has changed. This is optional of course but you do want to ensure you have the most amount of accuracy possible to actually land Phalanx II, which is the biggest challenge faced by this build.
- You’ll rely a bit more on Siphon TP with a Phalanx II build than you would going with something that generates pure enmity.
- This build is very difficult to maintain on mobs that have high evasion. Other rotations should not be neglected, although inevitably something will fall out of attention because you have to read your log for shield procs or be aware of the on-screen visual more.
As I said before I hope that this guide will serve to highlight all the amazing things that Gladiator brings to the table for tanking. It is hands-down the best physical tanking class in the game when it has the proper support. THM doesn’t hold a candle to Gladiator when it comes to damage reduction, so don’t be fooled by all that silly THM-solo nonsense floating around. Gladiator is a great job in its own right, but it also has a very high learning curve, believe it or not. This guide should provide a nice path for those interested in Gladiator to take. It’s a lot of work to maximize this job, but the gains are tremendous.
Thank you for reading and look for my next guide which will go a bit more into… well, some other topic I’ve yet to decide on. See ya!