Out of all the classes in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the Black Mage is the one to choose if you're big on burst damage and timing. What the BLM provides that no one else does is crowd-control and from there, some of the fastest DPS in the shortest amount of time. Despite being the "blow everything up" class, this specific DPS job requires a little bit more timing and understanding of what you're fighting in order to bring it to its full effectiveness. Hopefully, you'll find this guide useful. It should contain information relevent to the game at this moment in time.
How to become a Black Mage
Becoming a Black Mage will require you to have Thaumaturge Lv30 as well as Archer Lv15. From there, you must have completed all your prior Thaumaturge class quests to activate Black Mage job quests as well as the unlock from Cocobuki in the Thaumaturge's guild in Ul'dah.
Once unlocked, don't be confused by having to return to Ul'dah. At first you will, to activate quests, but any time afterwards, your Job quest activates can be found in Eastern Thanalan at the Burgundy Falls. A lot of people forget this one so just throwing it out there.
General damage compared to others
While Square Enix did a great job tuning their classes, I feel the BLM sits somewhere in between all the other classes and can dip down to lowest dps and can shoot to highest depending on the player as well as the fight. I guess you can argue that statement about every other class but the way Black Mage was designed, you are severly punished for inefficiency when moving and mis-timing your spells but you are gifted the power of immediate burst and fast, on-the-clock damage. All in all, if the fight has you standing still and dodging nothing, you will likely be doing the most damage. While a skilled player has ways of continuously doing damage in a fight, it takes a lot of timing and practice to master damage-on-the-go with this particular burst DPS.
On the other hand, what's easy about Black Mage is they are the undisputed champions of Area-of-Effect damage. If there are at least 3 or more creatures to AOE, you will do more damage then everyone else and be able to sustain it for long periods of time.
Skills to Note
These are the skills you will need to understand at the most basic level:
1. Umbral Ice I - III - Umbral ice is a passive skill granted through use of damage-dealing ice spells. While active it gives you a HUGE mana-regen boost while making your fire spells do significantly less damage. This is where all your mana will come from.
2. Astral Fire I - III - Astral Fire is a passive skill granted through use of fire-based spells. While active, you will have ZERO mana regen but your firespells will deal pretty much double the damage at twice the cost. This is where all your damage comes from.
3. ***Thundercloud - This is a passive acquired at lv.28. This gives any Thunder spell a 5% chance per tick (PER TICK, NOT CAST) your next thunder spell will cast instantly and do it's true damage. Basically, if this procs you can cast Thunder II or III (III if you have it already) instantly and do burst damage equal to your fire spells.
4. Blizzard I - III - Blizzard grants you the effects of Umbral Ice. Blizzard I is single target, Blizzard II is a surrounding AOE spell, and Blizzard III is a single target that grants 3 stacks of Umbral Ice no matter what (even if you have Astral Fire active).
5. Fire I - III - Your pure damage spells. Once you begin to cast these spells, you'll trigger stacks of Astral Fire (Fire I being one stack and Fire III being max) on cast. Prepare to see tons of fire, because these spells are part of your constant damage rotation.
6. ***Firestarter - This a lv.44 passive skill. This is where you start to do heavy damage. After every Fire spell, you have a 50% chance to proc this passive. When it procs, your next Fire III spell will use no mana and cast instantly. It's a ton of burst damage and can be timed to be cast on the move since it's instant.
7. ***InstaCast - Pretty much one of the most useful skills in the game. Gives you one instant cast every one minute. You can find creative ways to utilize this spell other than the double flare rotation but we all know every other class is learning the dark arts to try and steal this skill away from us. Unacceptable! They must be thrown into the void for utilizing our crazy-good skill.
8. Flare - A 260 potency area of effect damage move that uses whatever mana you have remaining. If you cast at full mana, it'll use all of it. If you cast at low mana, it'll still go through and use all of it. It's best to fit this in at the end of your rotation. However, Flare does have a 360 mana requirement. It's likely to be % based and be equal to about 10% of your total mana.
9. Transpose - Immediately converts Astral Fire to Umbral Ice and vice versa. This skill is your 'oops, I messed up' skill and/or your after-Flare savior skill. Note that Astral Fire III does not become Umbral Ice III and vice versa. It always converts to the opposite stack I.
10. ***Convert - Sacrifices 20% of your HP to restore 30% of your mana... Since it's not a 1:1 trade, this spell is fairly powerful. Use it in conjunction with Flare or as a fail-safe to any potential mess up.
11. ***Manaward - Probably one of the most over-looked spells in our kit. This creates a barrier equal to 30% of your HP that negates magic damage. Does not work on physical damage but that's what Manawall (see below) is for. This skill has saved my butt so many times and it's sad to see many BLMs I've partied with not cast this spell to do the same. A dead BLM is doing no damage!
12. ***Manawall - I'm not going to lie... for some reason this was never on my hotbar and anyone who reads this needs to heed my call.. Use this spell. It nullifies ANY TWO PHYSICAL ATTACKS. This will save your face much like aman wall will.
Your rotation will pretty much be:
1. Thunder II - Because you'll want to be doing Damage over time while you're casting spells as well as get a chance to proc the Thundercloud passive
2. Fire III - To give you the effects of Astral Fire III which will boost the damage of all your fire spells exponentially
3. Fire - Get ready to marry this spell. You could almost consider this your basic attack. Spam this spell till you get a Firestarter or Thundercloud proc.
4. 400~ mana remaining (You'll eventually get a feel for this) -- The reason behind 400 mana is with Astral Fire III, Blizzard III will cost 79 mana. However, you need 319MP to recast a fresh Thunder II without having to wait.
5. Blizzard III - When you were a Thaumaturge, you used transpose to return your mana. That is replaced by the use of Blizzard III, which immediately transitions your Astral Fire III to Umbral Ice III.
6. Repeat steps #1 through #5 Or move to Step #7
7. @400 mana begin hard casting Flare
8. Convert to return back 1100~ mana
9. InstaCast >>> Flare
ALTERNATIVE: Don't do a second Flare, just cast another Fire then back to Blizzard III
10. Transpose (since your mana will be at zero)
Steps 7 through 9 will give you a huge burst of AOE damage every time convert is up (roughly 2400 or more/4000 with crits). You can then use Transpose afterwards to recover your mana. People say Flare is a useless spell, but it has its place in both AOE and even single target rotations-- you just have to be creative with how you fit it in to your typical rotation. 260 potency is too good to ignore unless you're not fast enough to recover from it.
How come you don't open fights with Thunder III?
Thunder II has the same potency at a shorter cast time than Thunder III. The advantage of T3 however is it does have ONE extra tick over T2 being that the duration is 24 seconds instead of 21 seconds. Since thundercloud procs at a 5%, people have argued T3's extra duration is good but generally, I will end up cycling through my whole rotation and casting a fresh T2 during Umbral Ice anyways.
I used Transpose a lot as a Thaumaturge, why isn't it in the rotation now?
Transpose was needed because Fire used to overwrite Blizzard's Umbral Ice and vice versa. Now, Blizzard III and Fire III share a characteristic that DOES NOT overwrite the opposing passive but rather replaces it. Transpose now takes a back seat.
Crowd Control and other niche skills
Sleep- because of your passive skill "Deep Sleep" your sleep is Area-of-effect which is something unique to only you... probably forever. Use this spell anytime you can. AOE sleep is too good to just walk over and ignore and can make your dungeons much more efficient and a bit more 'mistake-proof' especially pre-50.
Freeze - Your AOE Bind spell. It takes awhile to cast so it's best to combine with InstaCast. While this has limited uses, most targets who resist sleep can often be bound can so you'll find yourself using this in situations where AoE is king and gathering them up for your teammates make everything smoother. Garuda hard mode comes to mind where Freeze can bind plumes before they more.
Blizzard and Blizzard II - Blizzard 1 actually has a built in "Heavy" effect which slows down enemy movement speeds and Blizzard 2 has an AoE bind effect. These passive skills are often over-looked but knowing they are there might prove beneficial in future encounters.
Lethargy - Lethargy has more uses than you think. While people think it's just a heavy, it is also a "Slow" which reduces the skill speed of your oppenent by 20%, effectively making them attack and use skills less often. Most things will resist this spell since it's just too good but if they don't, use it. Most bosses during dungeon runs won't resist this spell.
*** Scathe - Your only insta-cast spell. Use while moving/repositioning. Perfect use of this skill eliminates the whole "not doing damage while moving" thing Black Mages suffer from. The skill does, at lvl 50, more than 250 damage and can proc the "chance to do double damage" passive. While 250 is low, it's still damage while on the move, which means you still contribute to the dps even during your darkest moment.
*** Aetherial Manipulation - Ye ole' Scoot move. This will move you to a party members position. While you'll literally be simply moving out of the way of things, you can use this as a panic move. Best use is to Bind a target with Blizard II and scoot towards your tank to save yourself or even one of your fellow backline players, like a healer.
Apocatastasis - This is the one move that boggles my mind. While 30% resistance buff to fire, ice, and lightning is cool, I just don't see why this exists at the moment on a damage dealer class that not only should focus on well, damage in most situations, but should be using crowd control instead of buffs if anything. I feel this should be moved to a Thaumaturge ability and replaced with an actual Black Mage spell.
For stats, you'll want to do: Weapon Damage > INT > Critical Hit Rate/Determination > Vitality/Piety > Everything else. Simple, no?
Intelligence - raises your magical damage potency and amplifies your damage based on the current weapon damage. At relic, 6.5 INT roughly equals 1 weapon damage. In most situations, put all 30 of your stat points into INT.
Critical Hit Rate - As a Black Mage, your critical strikes hit incredibly hard. While you'll never be able to advance it to extreme levels, every bit helps out the odds of criting. Later levels, you'll be able to slot this with Materia in certain gear so you might be able to have enough to crit failry often.
Determination - A secondary stat that adds raw damage. While one may argue that it's better than crit, the whole base damage versus RNG (random number generator), it takes roughly 50 or so of this stat to equal one weapon damage. If the piece of gear has it, then cool but don't go through great lengths to stack this stat.
Vitality and Piety - On mages (or everyone, I do not know), 1 Vitality stat is equal to rough 14.5 health and 1 Piety stat is equal to alittle over 8 mana. Your gear will always have Vitality but often times, will never have piety. While mana is good, you only need enough to get the next fire cast on your rotation off. It's been argued in the past allocating your stats from 30INT to 20INT & 10 PIE give you that extra fire cast and enhances your DPS, but I have not done this calculations myself yet so do not know for sure. I'm just putting it out there though.
The Garbs of Destruction
Most of your gear up until 50 will be share with all the other Disciplines of Magic. For base gear, it's very much appropriate to go Acolyte's (15 -- All level 15 dungeons) >> Battle Mage's (32 -- Brayflox's Longstop) >>> Wizard's (Artifact 45) >>> Darklight (50 -- Philosophy Tombstones). However, as you progress through the game, you'll always want to be upgrading your weapon. If you've kept up-to-date with your Grand Company ranking, they provide weapons for you every roughly every 8 to 9 levels and are the pretty much the best-in-slots up until 50.
As for level 50 upgrades, the full Darklight set, which can be acquired for philosophy tombstones in Mor Dhona, is fairly strong, however, you won't benefit from a single piece of gear more than your relic weapon, which has 67 base damage and 27INT stats.
Best in Slots:
In the most ideal situation, these are the best possible items in each slot. As a DPS class, it is advisable to obtain your Relic +1 (Stardust Rod +1) first as it is the best point per upgrade on this class -- also note casters get a +3 weapon damage increase with relic +1 as opposed to physical's +2 and BRD's +1 wpn dmg -- making caster +1s the best point per stat upgrade. Afterwards, try and obtain the rest... This BiS scenario gives you the highest damage potential with the most amount of crit possible with respect to the accuracy soft cap (432~ for casters). This will be a mix-and-match between AF2 which can be obtained with Mythology Tombstones and Allagan, which can be obtained in The Binding Coil of Bahamut. The following items can be compared here:
My recommendation is to obtain the "Hero" accessories, after Relic +1, since they are inter-changeable with SMN should you level that job as well. They are also cheaper and thus can be obtained faster and go great with the already-effective iLvL70 Darklight set. However, if you are a dedicated BLM, the Sorcerer's feet and head pieces make for excellent upgrades.
Useful Cross-Class Abilities
Physick (Arcanist lv.4) - You can't get Cure from Conjurer, but you can get Physick from Arcanist... Go figure. With that said, lv.4 is easy to obtain and is very useful if you want to be self-reliant. Sometimes, you just have to be independent and heal yourself.
Virus (Arcanist lv.15) - While this is not a requirement, this is a fairly useful spell to have. It's an off-GDC skill debuff that reduces DEX and STR by 15%. While it is not your job to think about debuffs, use this spell. It's an insta-cast that could save your tank or party.
Eye for an Eye (Arcanist lv.34) - Definitely not a requirement but I barely make use of all my cross-class slots so if you happen to have ACN lv.34 then why not? Makes it so creatures that attack the target with this buff on has a 20% chance hit for 10% less. Yippee?
***Raging Strikes (Archer lv.4) - Archer has very useful cross-class skills and this is one of them -- Infact, you should already have this skill since the requirement for BLM is ARC15 so immediately paste this onto your hotbar. Every 180 seconds, you'll increase your damage by a flat 20% for 20 seconds. It's a HUGE boost and ups your damage.
***Quelling Strikes (Archer lv.34) - This is something any dedicated Black Mage should get around to trying to obtain at some point. It's a skill that reduces the amount of agro your spells do for a few seconds. Being the burst class, this is mandatory for any serious raiding but up till then you have excuses... I suppose.
Other Tips/Advanced Tactics
1. Always cast Scathe on the move. It only improves your DPS if you can still do damage on-the-go. However, this skill is still on the 2.5 second GDC so its best uses come from situations where you will be moving for more than that time frame at a time.
2. You can move and cast the spell when your bar is around 70% or so. Once you get the timing, you will be able to stand in red circles long enough to know when to move, still cast the spell, and improve your DPS. This is recommended to practice in areas where you are not punished for being hit, or even in dungeons. Cast the finishing blow and start running to your next location just before cast.
3. Aetherial Manipulation can save you from a fatal knock-back attack if used at the correct time. While I don't do it often since moving out of the way is better, I've saved myself from being knocked out of Titan's arena by casting this spell immediately on-hit. However, don't use this spell as an excuse to get hit by everything!
4. Knowing when to appropriately cast Freeze (given the situation), can give you an AoE edge. If you pre cast Freeze, the binding effect plus the target movement speed can give you enough time to do one Flare and then insta-cast another (or just the first if you do the dmg). Often times, you can wipe the entire set of small multi-adds by yourself doing this.
5. Always remember to Transpose at the end of every fight. Don't go out of your way to ensure you have cast Blizzard III in-between trash pulls. Just burn things till the explode and then Transpose to Umbral Ice I.
6. While this takes full understanding of whatever particular fight your on's damage values, you can Manaward yourself and not move out of the way of a damage move in order to keep from interrupting your cast. Yeah, crazy, I know, but sometimes I cast Manaward and eat ADS' Piercing Laser in Coil for 0 damage rather than move out of the way and stop from casting.