Final Fantasy XIV – How to Play Bard

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Final Fantasy XIV – How to Play Bard

Here's everything you need to know to get started with your Soundcloud career. And how to play Bard. Mostly how to play Bard.

The Bard is one of the most popular Jobs in Final Fantasy XIV. And it's easy to see why. Constant buffs to damage make the DPS happy, buffing heals keeps our green friend's rage to a minimum after you fail a mechanic and the tanks have a buddy who'll accidentally share cleaves with them. It's all great fun really. If you know Bards from other fantasy properties, you might wonder why the Final Fantasy XIV version is using a bow. And don't worry we're all still a bit puzzled about that.

As a Bard, it is your divine duty to babysit everyone else's numbers. The unseen hand buffs everyone's damage and makes the raid an objectively better experience, only to be accused of slacking in damage by the melee that died three times in that pull. It's a job whose basic gameplay is mind-numbingly simple and yet so overwhelming that you'll frequently find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. That condition is called ‘Ranged-Brain' and BRDs, RDMs and MCHs have been suffering from it for a long, long time.

That being said, Bard is still a very fun job. If you like the prospect of juggling five different resources with very explicit timing while having to pay attention to everything else. It's great fun! I swear!


You won't get a pass here without a little history lesson though! Don't worry we'll keep it brief. The Bard is one of the classic Final Fantasy Jobs, dating all the way back to Final Fantasy III. Since then it has always been portrayed as a sort of support job. Final Fantasy XIV, however, shares its identity with the Archer. Another classic staple of the series that deals damage from a distance with poisons and status effects which is where this overlap starts to make some sense.

This also has relevance to the lore. In a time when the city-states waged war with another ca. 500 years ago, reluctant hunters picked up their bows to defend their homelands. In grand battles, they played and sang songs to encourage and comfort comrades which greatly boosted morale and their combat prowess. Over time people tried to harness the power of these ‘battlesongs' only to see diminishing returns until the art slowly started to fade away into obscurity again.

But the rest and more you'll learn from the Bard Job quests.

From Archer to Bard

Being one of the original jobs that launched with A Realm Reborn, the road to the Bard can start when you create your character. Just select the Archer class and you'll start in Gridania. If you're planning to pick it up later in your adventuring career, you can pick up Way of the Archer at the archers Guild in New Gridania. Just level Archer up to level 30 and finish all the class quests to unlock the ‘A Song of Bards and Bowmen' quest to unlock the Bard job and go from there. You're of course highly encouraged to do all of these quests just to unlock all your skills and get some extra gear.

Bard 101

As Bard, you play songs for your party which buffs their damage output. This is not just something to keep you busy while you pepper a boss with arrows though, this makes up for your lack of personal damage. Besides that, you have to juggle two dots and manage two resources as well as progs for special abilities. Bard isn't a hard Job by any means, but it's a very busy one. So it's not unlikely for you to zone out while playing and mess up here and there. That's why it's important to have your priorities in order.

While FFXIVs ABC (Always Be Casting) also applies to Bard, APS (Always Play Songs) should also apply. You generally have enough time to cycle through all your songs till the next burst window as each of them lasts 45 seconds and your burst window comes up every two minutes. The 15 seconds extra you'll eventually have on one of your songs need to be cut short and they only exist as a sort of wiggle room for recovery. So make sure that one of your songs is always playing and that you replace it once it's running out. This is your number 1 priority.

Your next priority is your damage over time effects of which you have two. Stormbite and Caustic Bite which you should keep on the boss at all times. At level 56 you'll get Iron Jaws which lets you refresh those DoTs in one global cooldown. While they both run for a lengthy 45 seconds, don't fall into the trap of being greedy to reapply them just as they're about to fall off. Generally, it's worth reapplying them one or two GCDs earlier just to be safe. Personally, I prefer to refresh them around the 6-second mark.

Then there's the Soul Voice Gauge and the Song Gauge, your Jobs special meter that you get to spend. Soul Voice Gauge can be spent for Apex Arrow, whose potency is influenced by the amount of Soul Voice Gauge you have. You need a minimum of 20 and its damage caps at 80 so.. you always want to use it as soon as that Gauge hits 80. Never let it sit at that too long, as soon as this bar goes above 80 you're wasting damage.

Song Gauge on the other hand is very straightforward, you get a Mistrel's Coda when playing a song. These can then be used on Radiant Finale which is a buff that boosts damage for the entire party, depending on how many Coda you've gathered since the last time you used it. This will and should always line up with your 2-minute burst window just don't worry about clipping the last song, it's by design.

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Bard Utility

Like all the ranged jobs, Bard is a support DPS. What it doesn't have in pure damage output, it makes up for with party utility. Let's go over the kit. Crossclass abilities won't be covered here.

There's Nature's Minne which boosts HP recovery via healing spells by 15%. Which is very useful to cast right after or right before a stack mechanic goes off or a raid-wide is about to land. Then you have The Warden's Paean which can cleanse detrimental effects. Kind of like an off-brand Esuna for emergencies and Troubadour which will reduce everyone's damage taken by 10%. Especially useful for raid-wide and partywide mechanics. During Savage encounters, try to find a spot to use it regularly to take some of the head off your healers.


Let's get to combat then. Keep in mind that this guide expects that you at least completed the Hall of Novice and have a general idea of encounters in Final Fantasy XIV work. We'll try to explain everything in a way that applies to all stages of leveling but especially to the level 90 cap. So let's get to it.

Like mentioned above, whatever you do, it is important that you keep up your buffs and that you keep them rolling constantly. By the time you reach level 52, you'll have all three songs available and you'll play them in the following order: The Wanderer's Minuet, then Mage's Ballad and finish off with Army's Paeon. Try and cut Mage's Ballad short by 10 seconds to keep your buff window from drifting It's very important that you always play The Wanderer's Minuet every 2 minutes and use the Battle Voice buff with it.

For the 2-minute burst, you want to line up Radiant Finale with 3 Coda right after you weaved Wanderer's Minuet and Battle Voice. Try to line up Barrage with that as well and hold Apex Arrow if you know it's coming up.

Multi-target Encounters

Like any other job, Bard's multi-target abilities only come into play whenever you have to deal with two or more enemies. Don't bother applying the two damage over time effects unless one of the enemies has significantly more health than the rest. It's just a waste of two perfectly fine GCDs.

Instead, you just use Ladonsbite/Quick Nock (Keep in mind that these fire in a cone in front of you for positioning) and try to get Shadowbite to proc. In between, you weave your off Global Cooldowns to boost your damage. Doesn't really matter if some of them are only single targets but you should obviously prioritize those that hit multiple targets and have longer cooldowns. So use Rain of Death, Empyreal Arrow, and Sidewinder in between casts. You should be able to weave two of those in-between every global cooldown. And don't forget to use Barrage!

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Single-Target Encounters

Single-Target is similar in a few ways, only that now you get to use Burst Shot/Heavy Shot and hope for Refulgent Arrow/ Straight Shot for proc. But first, you need to apply both your damage over time effects (DoTs), Caustic Bite/Venomous Bite, and Strombite/Windbite. Keep those up! They're on a 45-second timer and playing it close is never worth it for one tick more damage. So we recommend you refresh those DoTs with Iron Jaw once one of them drops below 6-8ish seconds.

Bard is a really weave heavy Job as you'll soon come to notice. In between Burst Shots and Refulgent Arrow, you can always weave Sidewinder, Bloodletter, Perfect Pitch, Empyreal Arrow, and Blast Arrow. You should always weave and generally, the window should be generous enough that you can weave two of those at the time, but that's highly dependent on your ping.


Now that you have a general idea of how to play Bard, let's talk about the opener. You may have noticed that Bard doesn't exactly have a rotation, stead you need to juggle all kinds of procs and cooldowns. Warning, there'll be lots of weaving!

You start off with Stormbite, then weave The Wanderer's Minuet and Raging Strikes for party and personal damage. Then we continue with Caustic Bite and weave Empyreal Arrow and Bloodletter. Then we hit our first Burst Shot/Refulgent Arrow, weave Radiant Finale, and Battlevoice before hitting another Burst Shot/Refulgent Arrow.

After you weave Barrage depending if Straight Shot proc or not. If it proceeds delay it to the next weave and use Sidewinder instead. Now just proceed to use Burst Shot/Refulgent Arrow, refresh your DoTs if needed and use your off-global cooldowns as they come up.

Burst Window

One little side tangent here is your burst window. That's when you get to use all your big buffs which are on a 2-minute rotation, you want to time these with your party to get the most out of it and these should line up across all jobs every 2 minutes. So coordinate these with your party to be extra sure.

If you do the opener as described above, your burst window should come up with The Wanderer's Minuet, Battle Voice, and Raging Strikes. To line these up properly, you first weave The Wanderers Minuet and Raging Strikes, then Radiant Finale and Battle Voice. Radiant Finale and Battle Voice are the important ones that you should coordinate with your party.

Stacking damage buffs across multiple jobs boosts damage immensely for certain jobs with burst phases such as Gunbreaker, Dragoon, or Reaper, and it's generally more effective than spacing them out.

Other Bard Fun Stuff

Should you die and try to recover and get back into the groove of your songs, remember to not panic. If you missed playing a song during your brief phase of being unalive, just continue as you normally would. Trying to squeeze a song back into your timeline will only cause your entire rotation to slowly derail and you won't be able to line up your burst window buffs properly. But you can do this if you know you'll kill the boss within the next 2 minutes.

When it comes to reapplying your DoTs you'll probably notice that you don't have to do this once the timer hits 0. It's a bit weird thanks to Square Enix's amazing netcode but Iron Jaws will generally reapply your DoTs as long as you hit it before the next server tick which is three seconds. You can try and set a metronome to it if you want to get into your Bard character.

As a Bard, you want to be careful not to overshoot your skill speed. Weaving becomes significantly more difficult when you're on a 2.39-second global cooldown instead of a 2.47-second global cooldown. Especially on Bard (and also Machinist) who frequently have to weave two skills in between their global cooldown this makes a huge difference.

So that's most you'll need to know about Final Fantasy XIVs Bard Job. The rest is up to you until you learn that the real endgame for Bards is to learn how to play all the performance instruments in Limsa's Aetherryte square.

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Final Fantasy XIV – How to Play Bard
Timo Reinecke
Has once claimed that FSH is the only job in FFXIV worth playing and stands by that firmly. Top Guy, Smart Guy, Educated Speaker. (sometimes) Writer of all things FFXIV, FGC, News, Reviews and More