|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.
History of Guide
This guide was written by MargavineLiselle on the Allakhazam forums after distilling information from ongoing RDM discussions and previous guides. I've simply trancribed and wiki-ized this guide after getting permision from MargravineLiselle. Any references to the forum in this guide are a reference to the Allakhazam FFXI Red Mage forum. See the links section for the curious.
--Strangeone 09:12, 5 June 2006 (PDT)
- 11/07/05 - Minor formatting changes
- 8/17/05 - Fixed Defender duration, added link to "Things to Dispel" FAQ
- 6/01/05 - Fixed Enspell formula to account for low levels
- 4/26/05 - Minor cosmetic changes
- 4/15/05 - Added some info on Banish
- 4/14/05 - Added section on Dispel (oops ^^)
- 4/12/05 - Minor change to Spells section, added Table of Contents, added Stat Chart
- 4/11/05 - Added section on Weaponskills
- 4/08/05 - Initial guide posted
This forum has long been in need of an unbiased, unified RDM guide, and this is my attempt to create one. It's the product of some collaboration on the part of the members of the community, and I hope it reflects a balanced, thorough view of the class. The guide is not 100% complete, and I'm not sure it ever will be, but I'm letting it out the gate anyway. There are a few more things that I would like to add, but I will edit them in as they are finished.
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.
- 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 RDMs are often called for Magic Bursting on Skillchains.
- Enhancing - We have the highest rating (B+) in Enhancing, but all of the RDM-innate Enhancing spells (with few exceptions) are self-only. This includes Stoneskin, all bar-element and bar-status spells, Enspells, and Phalanx.
- Enfeebling - This is the RDM specialty. With our A+ Enfeebling skill, we are better suited for landing spell-based enfeebles than any other mages. Enfeebling the monster is one of the primary roles of Red Mages throughout their careers.
- Refresh and Dispel - These spells deserve their own category, because starting at mid-level, parties will invite you with Refreshing and Dispelling in mind. Refresh in particular is a job-defining ability that others don't have access to. This will be covered in more detail later.
Because of our versatility, we are frequently called "Jack of all Trades", but that title is a little misleading. It's a mistake think that Red Mages can do everything: you'll never be able to replace a BLM or a WHM on their own turf. Your melee abilities are never going to rival a real DD. The Red Mage is a generalist, and that's a strength and a weakness at the same time.
The function of a Red Mage in party situations is control. When the WHM is in trouble (being hit, or out of MP), or the PLD just got hit with a Sickle Slash, we can heal in a pinch. We can Magic Burst for respectable damage, and we can free-nuke to quickly end 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 with our A+ Enfeebling. 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, and Convert gives us a source of extra MP for emergencies or extending chains. Essentially the Red Mage is a supporting caster, allowing 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, 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 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 playstyle 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, healing, and 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. Enter combat with an Enspell on (when you get it at level 16), and keep your Sword 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 fixing 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 level range 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 becomes a viable SJ at level 50 because of Auto-Refresh, provided that /WHM and /BLM duties are sufficently taken care of.
- 61+: By the time you get to this point, you should know Red Mage like the back of your Warlocks's Gloves. Players start gaining 30-37 abilities from their subjobs, Level 3 skillchains come into play, DDs become incredibly powerful, and monsters become more difficult to kill. 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/subjobs 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 a Red Mage. In the grand scheme of things, your skill as a player is the most important factor in being a sucessful RDM. 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 RDMs 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 (coupled with the worst DEX/AGI of any race). The primary problem Elvaan RDMs 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 RDMs, 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 RDMs 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 run-down 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).
- 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, so it *may* be worthwhile to equip STR equipment in a WS macro.
- 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.
- Evasion, Ranged Accuracy, Parry, 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).
- 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.
- Worthless stat for us. If you are subbing /BST or /BRD, it may have some limited use on song/charm resists, but otherwise don't bother with this.
- 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 offensive 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.
- Also very important. INT will directly increase the power of your elemental nukes 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 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 multipler, up to a certain point. 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 is your chance to hit the monster with melee (also note Ranged Accuracy), and is compared to the targets Evasion. Accuracy has diminishing returns past a certain point.
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.