The Rotation for Black Mages (BLM) in Final Fantasy XIV’s newest expansion Shadowbringers has changed a bit with the addition of several new spells, and entirely for the better. If you’re looking to learn how to play BLM, this guide will teach you everything you need to know about this deceptively simple job.
Each rotation can be thought of as having two different halves, ice and fire, which well embodies the job itself. Once you know what to do, it gets pretty simple in theory but can be tricky in practice depending on mechanics.
AoE BLM Rotation at 80
We’ll be starting with the AoE rotation first, since more often than not in a dungeon or raid you’ll be building off this rotation to go into your single target rotation.
Some Black Mages think you should start off the same as your single target rotation. But those BLM are wrong.
The AoE Rotation in Summary:
- Thunder IV (and again, every time Thunder Cloud procs)
- Fire III
- Foul (If you have Polyglot)
- Repeat until mobs are dead
- Transpose (If you have Umbral Fire)
- Umbral Soul (Spam until next pack of mobs or boss is pulled)
To start off with, you’ll be targeting the beefiest target in the pack of mobs your tank has pulled and cast Freeze.
This has multiple advantages over casting Blizzard III and into Blizzard IV to gain your Umbral Hearts, the first being time. Freeze Grants you a full stack of Umbral Ice, and one Umbral Heart, which is all you need for the AoE rotation. It’s also an AoE spell, so you’ll do a bit of damage to everything in the pack.
Next, slap that Enochian. This is the most important part of both BLM rotations, and you will be casting around the idea of keeping this spell up at all times. Not only does the buff grant you 15% bonus Magic Damage, but for every 30s you manage to keep it up, you will be granted one Polyglot, which are used to cast your most powerful spells. It’s also required for casting Fire IV or Blizzard IV.
To top off this half of the rotation, you’ll be casting Thunder IV. This will hit every single mob in the pack with lightening damage and put a Lightning DoT on them as well.
Each tick from every single DoT has a 10% of granting you Thunder Cloud, which lets you cast Thunder IV again for free. This will also deal the full remaining damage of the Thunder IV DoT on each target it hits.
After finishing that first half of the rotation, you’ll switch over to doing your real damage.
Cast Fire III. This will damage your target, remove your stacks of Umbral Ice, and grant you full stacks of Umbral Fire. This empowers all your Fire spells while increasing their MP cost. Then cast Flare, and brace your eyeballs for the bright explosion of fiery goodness hitting every mob in range.
Normally Flare completely depletes your MP. Because we have the Umbral Heart from Freeze, you’ll still have 1/3rd of your MP left, which is enough to immediately cast another Flare.
Now that you’re without MP, you have two options.
If you have a Polyglot from your Enochian upkeep, cast Foul. This is Flare’s bad ass older brother, and essentially does the same thing but is much more powerful. If you can’t cast Foul yet, then you’ll go back to the start of the rotation and cast Freeze again. This removes your stacks of Umbral Fire, grants you full stacks of Umbral Ice, and will quickly replenish your MP.
After you’ve finished killing everything in your path, you’ll use Tranpose if you have Umbral Fire active to switch to Umbral Ice, then spam Umbral Soul until you get to the next pack of mobs or Boss you need to destroy.
If you feel like showing off, you can cast some of your cooldown spells like Leylines or Swiftcast, but this is 100% not necessary for trash mobs.
Single Target BLM Rotation at 80
BLM’s single target rotation often builds off your AoE’s rotation, meaning you’ll have Enochian active and a full stack of Umbral Ice and Umbral Hearts from using Umbral Soul. You’ll thus be able to skip to a certain point in the rotation, but for now we’ll be assuming you’re starting your rotation fresh, nothing to build off of.
The Single Target Rotation in Summary:
- Blizzard III
- Blizzard IV
- Thunder III
- Fire III
- Leylines (Cast whenever available in a safe spot where minimal movement is required)
- Fire IV x3
- Fire IV x3
- Xenoglossy (If Polyglot is available)
- Repeat from Step 2, ignoring Step 3.
Start by casting Swiftcast, then use it to cast Blizzard III, this grants you a full stack of Umbral Ice, which you’ll need to proceed quickly.
Next cast Enochian, then follow up with Blizzard IV, which will grant you three stacks of Umbral Hearts. Umbral Hearts are important because they greatly reduce the MP cost of your fire spells.
Finish this half of the rotation by casting Thunder III, which is essentially the single target and more potent version of Thunder IV.
Unlike the AoE rotation however, we will be ignoring all Thunder Cloud procs during single target rotations. You have more important spells to cast and precious little time to cast them without Thunder III hogging up your GCD.
Now we get to the bread and butter of BLM’s single target rotation, the fire. This is obviously where a majority of our damage comes from, and it’s only gotten better in Shadowbringers. If you’re coming in from an AoE rotation and already have full Umbral Ice and Umbral Hearts, you’ll start here.
Proceed by casting Fire III, this will remove all Umbral Ice and grant you full stacks of Umbral Fire, but will not consume an Umbral Heart. Now buff yourself by casting Leylines in a safe spot where you won’t have to move for a bit to boost your casting speed.
Do not use Triplecast this early in the rotation. This is a common mistake new Black Mages make, throwing down their best cooldowns at once. The problem is, this makes absolutely no sense as the two buffs are completely counter productive and will be partially wasted.
If you have boosted casting speed, why would you need to instant cast? Not only are you wasting the improved casting speed granted by Leylines, you’re wasting Triplecast for when you’ll need it in crucial movement heavy parts of the fights.
After you’ve cast Leylines, stand in the circle it creates, and cast Fire IV three times. This consumes your Umbral Hearts, but does not refresh your Umbral Fire. If you don’t cast something to keep it up, you’ll risk losing your all too important Enochian and fall out of the rotation.
The quickest way to refresh Umbral Fire is by casting Fire (big surprise). If you get the Firestarter proc, you can ignore it or save it for if you need to quickly refresh your Umbral Fire if you’ve made a mistake.
Follow up by casting Fire IV three more times, then finish it off by casting Despair. This will consume your remaining MP and deal a huge amount of damage, similar to Flare, but it’s a single target nuke. If you have a Polyglot, follow Despair by casting Xenoglossy, Despair’s angry dad nuke. After this, it’s pretty much rinse and repeat.
If at any point you have to move (and you will), you have multiple cooldowns to assist you and immediately resume casting. Swiftcast, Triplecast, Between the Lines, and Aetherial Manipulation will all help with this. As well, Mana Barrier should be used during phases of intense damage or when you have low HP.
Check out our other FFXIV guides here on GameSkinny.