This is going to be a very long read so I hope you’re ready. Let’s start with the basics, there are 6 important numbers/bars when crafting something, 4 of which you see during a craft, 2 of which you don’t (but that’s ok). Let’s start with the 4:

• Progress: This is shown as a bar that fills up green using progress actions, which are typically called something synthesis. Each synthesis action fills it up a certain amount. You must fill it to 100% to succeed in a craft. If, when you reach 0 durability, you have not reached 100% on this bar, the craft is failed and you may lose all your materials
• Quality: this one is tricky because it is actually 2 numbers instead of one. You have a quality bar, located below the progress bar, which works the same as the progress bar except with quality actions (also it fills up blue, not green), which are typically called something touch. You don’t need to fill it up completely to complete a craft, but the higher you get that bar, the more likely a successful craft will turn out HQ as opposed to LQ. 99.9% of the time, when HQ is possible (some items like furniture or fishing lures can’t be HQed), HQ is better than LQ and you should be shooting for HQ. Quality is also denoted by a percentage number shown in green, next to the quality bar. That tells you the HQ chance, as in the chance that your craft will turn out HQ (as opposed to LQ) if you complete it successfully. Now this will be math gibberish, but that percentage does not increase linearly with the progress bar, so don’t expect it to.
• Durability: essentially describes how many more actions you can do before your craft is over (successfully or not). it is shown as a fraction, and usually starts at either 40/40 or 80/80. Each progress/touch action uses 10 durability. Buff actions use 0. There are a few actions that have a direct effect on durability, we’ll get to hose later. If durability reaches 0 and your progress bar is not 100%, you fail the craft and may lose your materials.
• CP: CP is the red bar where your MP bar used to as DoW/DoM. CP is essentially the resource used to use actions, where each action has its own CP cost. CP always starts at max value at the beginning of a craft, and you can’t use items to increase that value during a craft. However you can increase your max CP value via gear, gear melds, and food. The more CP you have, the better, and it is very important to have a lot.
• Craftsmanship: This is a number that you won’t see while crafting, it’s visible when looking at your character in the menu. Craftsmanship describes how much each synthesis action will fill up the progress bar. The more craftsmanship you have, the faster the progress bar will fill. You can increase your craftsmanship via gear, gear melds, and food.
• Control: This is a number that you won’t see while crafting, it’s visible when looking at your character in the menu. Control describes how much each touch action will fill up the quality bar. The more control you have, the faster the quality bar will fill. You can increase your control via gear, gear melds, and food.
• That word that shows up next to quality, usually “normal”, but sometimes “good”, “excellent”, or “poor”: Not really a number, and you have no control over that, as its value is pure RNG. The only thing you can be 100% sure is that when you get “excellent”, the next one is going to be “poor”, then “normal”. Also when you get a “good”, the next one is going to be “normal”. Each action you do (any action), the value of this thing can change. Not always, you’ll typically get a lot of “normal” in a row, but always keep in mind that it can change on the next action. What this word is a modifier for your quality actions (it has no effect on progress). Let’s say a touch action gives you 100 quality (in the quality bar) when “normal”. The same action will give you only 25 if executed under “poor”, 150 if executed under “good”, and 400 if executed under “excellent” (actual numbers may be off, but the general idea is correct).

Got all that? So the general idea of a craft is: you must reach as much as you can on the quality bar, and keep enough durability to perform as many progress actions as you need to reach 100% progress. To do this, you must manage your CP and durability, and perform useful actions accordingly.

Before you read on, you MUST understand EVERYTHING above, otherwise this would not make sense.

Alright, time to describe actions now. Let’s start with the basics, i.e. the actions that every single crafting class will have:

• Basic/Standard synthesis: (CP costs: 0/15) Using one of these actions has 2 effects, when it succeeds: your progress bar will increase by some value (basic < standard), and your durability will decrease by 10. Note that each of these actions has a success rate, meaning a chance that it will fail. If it fails, you still lose 10 durability, but your progress bar will not increase. That sucks.
• Basic/Standard/Advanced touch: (CP cost: 18/32/48) Using one of these actions has 2 effects, when it succeeds: your quality bar will increase by some value (basic < standard < advanced), and your durability will decrease by 10. Note that each of these actions has a success rate, meaning a chance that it will fail. If it fails, you still lose 10 durability, but your quality bar will not increase. That sucks.
• Steady Hand: (CP cost: 22) This is a buff, meaning that losing it will NOT decrease your durability, and activating this will always succeed (all buffs work that way, you can’t fail a buff activation). What this buff does is increase your success rate for the next 5 actions by 20%. Remember how synthesis/touch actions have a success rate? Steady hand increases that, so that they can’t fail (or have less chance to fail). Very very useful. Note that leveling CUL to 37 will give you Steady Hand II, which gives you 30% more success rate for 25 CP, and is arguably the most valuable crafting skill.
• Observe: (CP cost: 14) This action does… absolutely nothing. To be clearer, when you use it, nothing happens, except for an RNG chance to change that word next to quality (remember “poor”, “normal”, “good”, “excellent”? that thing). You will most likely never use this skill until endgame crafts, it is only useful if you’re trying to bait a “good” or “excellent”, or want to get rid of “poor”. If this hurts your head, forget about this skill.
• Great Strides: (CP cost: 32) This skill is a buff so using it does NOT decrease durability. When you activate it, it will remain active for a maximum of 3 actions, and will be used upon your first successful touch action, doubling its increase value. what that means is that doing Great Strides > Basic Synthesis > Basic Synthesis > Basic Touch is exactly the same as doing Great Strides > Basic Touch > Basic Synthesis > Basic Synthesis in terms of quality. Great Strides affects ONLY touch actions, so synthesis actions and buffs are unaffected by it. Why is this important ? Well, let’s take the example of Great Strides > Steady Hand > Basic Touch * 5 combination and compare it to its counterpart Steady Hand > Great Strides > Basic Touch * 5. Steady Hand boosts your next 5 actions, regardless of what they are. So if you’re doing SH > GS > BT * 5, you’re essentially boosting GS, which is useless, as GS is a buff and can’t fail. You have just wasted a stack of SH, and your 5th Basic Touch has less chance of success. If you do GS > SH > BT * 5, you do not not lose anything: GS has no effect on SH (SH is not a touch action), it just stays there for 3 actions or until your next touch action… which is the first BT, same as before. Except this time, all 5 of your BTs benefit from SH, which is great. Same quality improvement, better success rate, just by switching action order around. Cool huh? Now in a perfect world, you’d want to apply GS to every single touch action, that would be awesome… except GS is relatively expensive at 32 CP, so you can’t do that.
• Inner Quiet: (Cost: 18 CP) I left this one for last on purpose, it is pretty much the most important skill for anything HQ. It is also complicated to understand. When you use this skill, you will start stacking Inner Quiet Stacks (I will call these IQS from now one). You start at 1, and you can get all the way up to 11. Once it is activated, each time you perform a successful touch action, you gain 1 stack. What these stacks do is each one increases your control. That means that if you reach 11 stacks, your control is increased by A LOT. Remember what control does? THIS IS HUGE, that means your quality actions are that much more effective. Remember Great Strides ? It’s a 2-factor increase for your next quality action, that means that if you use GS while you have a lot of IQS… woah, lots and lots of quality, and therefore greater chance at HQ!

Those are all the basic skills, and with that you should be able to get to 1* HQ relatively easily. However to unlock the real potential of crafting, you need cross-class skills, which are the skills unlocked at levels 15, 37 and 50 for each crafting class. Some are invaluable, some are good, and some are meh. I will later write a post about them, but for now I have to take a break. Please look forward to it! Or not, your call.

And now, we get into the real meaty stuff: cross-class skills. Let’s start with the godlike ones, the ones that if you don’t have, you shouldn’t be trying to X* crafting, you should be getting those skills instead:

• Tricks of the Trade: (ALC 15, CP cost: 0) This is the most OP skill in the entire crafting game IMO. Yes it relies on RNG, but it will make or break a craft. You can only use this when you get “good”, and when you do, it restores 20 CP, and does not consume durability. Let that sink in. 20 CP. That’s almost the cost of SH/SHII. For free. Once again, let that sink in. Let me put this in perspective: long crafts typically go 30+ steps. Let’s say you get 5 “good” during that, which is about average, that’s 100 extra CP. 100 CP. This is the OPest skill ever. If you don’t have ALC 15 and you’re trying to craft at high-level, you stop what you’re doing right now and get ALC 15. Now. I’m serious. If you do not, please stop reading this guide immediately as you will never be able to craft properly in FFXIV.
• Hasty Touch: (CUL 15, CP cost: 0) I wouldn’t call this OP but it is an absolute necessity for pretty much any high level craft. Why ? Look at that CP cost: 0. That’s why. The counterpart to that is its success rate is quite low: 50%, yikes. However, using SH you boost this to 70%, which is better, or if you use SHII, you boost it to 80%, which is plenty acceptable. This skill, if it succeeds, boosts your quality and if IQ is up, increases your IQS by 1. This will be the skill you use the most when crafting, and as a rule of thumb: when you use HT, SHII should be up. Break this rule only if you don’t have a choice, and keep in mind that breaking this rule makes you very vulnerable to RNGesus.
• Byregot’s Blessing: (CRP 50, CP cost: 24) This is the second OPest skill in the entire crafting game IMO. It is directly related to IQS so pay close attention. This skill increases quality, and will consume ALL your IQS. For each IQS you have, you gain 20% efficiency on this skill. That means if you’re at 10 stacks, you’re doing 300% efficiency. If you add GS to that, you’re at 600% efficiency. This is your basic finisher for HQ crafts, when at 7+ IQS, GS > BB. Unless you plan to craft ONLY furniture and fishing lures (which can’t be HQed), you need this.
• Steady Hand II: (CUL 37, CP cost: 25) If you’re an avid gambler and don’t mind losing to RNG, you don’t really need this as it is simple an enhanced version of SH. But if you’d like to maximize your chances, this is an absolute necessity. Really all it is is a better SH, which boosts your success rate by 30% instead of 20. That sounds meh, it’s not, it makes a world of difference. You want to know why ? Let’s do some math! let’s take the SH > HT * 5 combo. On each of these HT, you have 70% chance of success. That means overall, you have .75chance of getting only successes. that’s about 16.8% chance. Not great. Now let’s take SHII > HT * 5 combo. This costs 3 CP more than the previous combo. 3 CP is not much, right ? What about our chances ? Each HT now has 80% chance of success. That means your chance at getting 5 successes is .85 = 32.8%. For 3 CP, you roughly doubled your chances at 5 successes (which also means +5 IQS btw). Holy RNG that 3 CP and 10% difference between SH/SHII makes a lot of difference now, doesn’t it? Now for you advanced mathematicians out there, feel free to do the calculations for “getting at least 4 out of 5 successes”. I’m not going to put it up here because it’s less simple in terms of pure math, but trust me on this one: the difference is even greater.
• Careful Synthesis II: (WVR 50, CP cost: 0) Here, it is important to compare this with Basic and Standard synthesis, in terms of efficiency, CP cost, and success rate. I will also add Careful Synthesis (not II) and Rapid Synthesis (ARM 15) and Piece by Piece (ARM 50) for completion’s sake (I don’t want to have to copy this table around, I’m lazy). It’s table time:
Synth ActionEfficiencySuccess RateCP Cost
Basic100%90%0
Standard150%90%15
Careful90%100%0
Careful II120%100%0
Rapid250%50%0
Piece by Piece1/3 of remaining progress90%15

Do you see how good CSII is ? Once you have CSII, you should NEVER use BS again (except in Ixali quests where you can’t use cross-class skills, but that’s different issue and is limited to Ixali quests).

This concludes the list of absolutely 100% necessary I’m-not-helping-you-if-you-don’t-have-them skills. Next part, good/useful cross-class skills.

Now, good/useful cross-class skills. Before I begin, keep in mind that at level 50, you can have 10 cross-class skills. That means that for most classes, you won’t be able to get all the good ones, you have to pick and choose. I will put my opinions on them as I describe them, but keep in mind these are personal opinions and others may disagree. They’re not wrong, but neither am I. Opinions man, they matter. Everyone should be on the same page regarding the 5 necessary skills above though:

• Comfort Zone: (ALC 50, CP cost: 66 CP). Once you activate this, for the next 10 steps, you will get 8 CP back on each one. That means 80 CP in total. 80 – 66 = 14. That means 14 free CP, if your craft is going to last at least 10 more turns. What this means is: THIS SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN STARTING A CRAFT. It may even be possible to re-activate it a second time once it wears off, but that’s going to depend on a lot of things, namely your CP, the actions you’re thinking about doing in the few next turns and their CP cost, and also what durability you have left. This is a great skill, free CP is always good.
• Rapid Synthesis: (ARM 15, CP cost: 0) One of the controversial skills, I recently started using it, it’s mainly useful for 3 and 4 star crafts, below that you don’t need to risk it. What it does is increase progress with 250% efficiency (that means the same as 2.5 Basic Synthesis, except that would cost 30 durability, whereas Rapid synthesis is the same using only 10 durability. 20 durability difference. That’s a lot). The counterpart is that its success rate is only 50%. That means that if you choose to use this skill, SHII should be up, and even then, you’re only at 80% success rate. Use this knowingly.
• Piece by Piece: (ARM 50, CP cost: 15) A complicated skill. This skill completely ignores your craftsmanship and control. What it does is fill the progress bar for 1/3 of its remaining amount. Let’s do this by example: let’s say you have a progress bar that’s 0/900. 900/3 = 300, therefore if you use PbP and it succeeds (it only has 90% success rate so it can fail unless you have SH/SHII up), you will be at 300/900. Now you have 600 remaining (900-300=600). If you use PbP again, it will fill up by 600/3=200, therefore you’ll be at 300+200=500. 500/900. Now a quick test, if at this stage you do PbP again and it succeeds, how much will you be at ? that’s right, 633, you got it. For those who didn’t: 900-500=400 remaining. 400/3=133 (because rounding). 500+133=633. As you can see, When using PbP you should use it when filling the BEGINNING of your progress bar, not the end, because it has diminishing returns. You should also be aware of how much the other synth actions increase the progress bar (that depends on your craftsmanship value). When PbP reaches a point where it increases less than CSII, you should stop using PbP. In general, you need PbP for 3 star and up, and for furniture. That’s it, other crafts don’t need PbP.
• Manipulation: (GSM 15, CP cost: 88) Another controversial skill. What this does is that 10 durability will be restored after the next 3 actions. So effectively, it gives you 30 durability, same as MM, except for 4 CP less. So, you will ask, why not always use Manipulation instead of MM ? Hmm. First, Manipulation takes effect AFTER each action. Therefore let’s say you’re at 10/40 durability, you pop Manipulation (still 10/40 dura), and then basic touch. Here you fail the craft, because BT takes you to 0/40, and that’s the end of your craft, failure. If you had used MM instead of Manipulation, you would be good to go. Ok then, so you have now figured out that you should use Manipulation when you’re at 20/40. That is correct! So you use it. Now here let’s assume you get “good” so you pop ToT. you’re now at 30/40. Your SHII ran out so you pop it. you’re at 40/40. And now you get “good” again, and you have a conundrum… Do you ToT and waste a Manipulation stack, or do you use a touch action and let go 20 free CP ? (The correct answer is, in terms of cost-effectiveness, let go 20 free CP, but ultimately it’s actually situation-dependent). And that, dear readers, is why I don’t like Manipulation. I’d rather use MM, even though it’s 4 CP more expensive, but it frees up a cross-class slot, so yeah, no Manipulation for me. Some people swear by it, some people discard it (as I do)… It’s true that 4 CP can make a difference, but meh.
• Innovation: (GSM 50, CP cost: 18) What this does is boost your control by 50% for the next 3 actions. However it only acts on your base control, not your control influenced by IQS. This is actually useful to some extent in all crafts, and is very useful at low levels (up to 2 star). It loses its effectiveness after that, but then it’s relatively cheap so it’s a good buffer skill for your finisher (i.e. a skill you use while waiting for a “good” or “excellent” to pop BB). For low levels, what it ends up doing is make your touch actions fill the quality bar faster, which is great. for example, if you do SH > Inn > BT * 3, you have 150% control on all 3 BTs, which is quite significant. Even if you do SH > Inn > BT > GS > BT * 2, you have 150% control on the first 2 BTs, but the second one has GS which makes double it, so that’s an even better combo IMO. A good skill, though when you get to 3-4 star crafts, you may not have enough cross-class slots to use it… Pick and choose.
• Rumination: (CRP 15, CP cost: 0) This has its uses, but I never use it. This skill, like BB, is directly linked to your IQS. When you use it, it will consume all your IQS, and restore a corresponding amount of CP, though I don’t know the IQS to CP ratio (if someone has it, that would be very useful info). In my opinion, this is much less important than a powerful BB, therefore I always spend my IQS toward BB, and never use Rumination. But I’m sure there are viable methods of using Rumination, I just am not familiar with them and would rather use BB. One thing though: unless you’re using CRP at the moment, you need cross-class slots for both Rumination and BB. As you can tell, it’s very very unlikely to use both in one single craft, so I don’t recommend it. Having both at the same time is a waste of a slot. If you’re going to experiment between both, do it with CRP as it has both naturally.
• Waste Not: (LTW 15, CP cost: 56) A very useful skill. What it does is for the next 4 turns, durability will only be reduced by 5 instead of 10 when you use a synth or touch action. That also means that you can waste CP on this, if you don’t use at least 3 synth/touch actions while it’s active. Why 3? I’m going to assume you only use WN once in your craft. If that’s the case, once WN is gone, having 15 dura is the same as having 20 dura, as in you can still do 2 actions. Having 5 durability does ont fail the craft, you still have one more action. So let’s say you pop WN at 40/40. Then you pop BT * 3 and CSII. You are now at 20/40, you have 2 actions left. Remember that. Let’s start again, 40/40 you pop WN, and then a “good” pops so you pop ToT. You are now at 3 WN stacks, and still 40/40 dura. You pop BT * 3, same as before. You are now at 25/40 dura. You have 3 actions left, so you can pop CSII same as before, and you have 2 actions left in exactly the same progress/quality situation as before… except you have 20 more CP from the ToT. See the difference? Let’s do one more simulation: 40/40, you pop WN, you pop SHII because it runs out, then ToT because “good” pops. You’re now at 40/40 dura, with 2 WN stacks left. You pop BT twice, 30/40 dura, and WN is gone. So you have 3 actions left, same as the previous simulation, but you did 1 BT less. This demonstrates how you can effectively “waste” WN: essentially you performed 2 dura-costing for the cost of 1. So 1 extra action cost you 56 CP. Not good, avoid that.
• Ingenuity I/II: (BSM 15/50, CP cost: 24/32) Incredibly useful, though its usefulness decreases for 3-4 star crafts. What this does is reduce a recipe’s level (for gear, that’s usually the same as the gear’s ilvl) to either your level for Ing 1, or your level minus 3 for Ing 2. When crafting, you may notice that a given will increase your progress/synth bar less as the level of the recipe increases. Say you do BT on a lvl 1 recipe, you get 120 quality, if you do the same BT, no gear change, on a lvl 50 recipe, you’re only going to get 60 quality (actual numbers may vary). This is where Ingenuity comes into play: let’s say on a lvl 50, you get 120 progress when using CSII. Now you’re going to attempt a 3 star craft, which let’s say is a lvl 90 recipe. If you use CSII, it’ll only give you 50 progress (again, actual numbers may vary). But, if you use Ing II, that decreases the recipe’s level to yours-3 for the next 5 steps. So when you pop CSII after Ing II, you 90 progress (one more time, those are not actual numbers). It’s very useful, and works both on progress and quality, though the effectiveness is harder to feel at 4 star.
• Reclaim: (CUL 50, CP cost: 55) When activated, if your craft fails, you have a 90% chance of getting your materials back. You CANNOT improve that 90%, it’s 90% not matter what. It doesn’t matter when you activate it, once activated it stays active until the end of the craft. This is very useful in high-level crafts when you’re using millions of gil worth of materials and are shooting for HQ. Say your HTs keep failing, and when it’s time to finish, your quality and IQS are low… then you want to reclaim. When you don’t use Reclaim, when you fail a craft, you have a roughly 10% chance of getting your mats back (though you always lose shards/crystals/clusters, no way around that). With reclaim, that chance is now 90% (though you still always lose shards/crystals/clusters, but that’s ok). That’s it.

And now the bottom of the barrel, the pretty much useless skills:

• Careful Synthesis: (WVR 15, CP Cost: 0). A dumbed-down version of CSII. It has 100% success rate, but only 90% efficiency which makes it crappier than even Basic Synthesis. You really don’t need this, at any level, and once you reach WVR 50, CSII completely destroys CS in every single way.
• Flawless synthesis: (GSM 37, CP cost: 15) Increases progress by 40. Not 40%, 40. This skill is absolutely useless, except maaaaaybe when you’re level 1-10. Why? Because with decent gear, any level past that, CSII will do more than 40 progress. Enough said, this skill useless.
• Brand of <Insert Element Here>: (6 different ones from different classes, CP cost: 15) Some crafts have elemental aspects. Typically, those are the “vintage” gear, as well as the primal furniture/gears. In your crafting log, you can see that towards the bottom of the page when looking at a craft. When you start the craft, you can also see it because there will be twirling elements (varying by elemental aspects) around the thing you’re crafting, it’s pretty. Anyhoo, the point is, when you are crafting one of these special crafts, your progress abilities will only have HALF their normal efficiency. That’s right, divide by 2. These “brand” skills however, have double efficiency when used on a craft with the right aspect, in other words they replace your basic synthesis in terms of actual efficiency, on those crafts. Should you use these skills? If working on an unaspected craft (which is most of them), definitely not. If working on an aspected craft (say, a primal weapon)… up to you. I’d still say no because it costs CP + a cross-class skill slot, you might as well use RS + CSII buuuut…I guess it’s up to you. That is the only scenario where they’re useful.
• Waste Not II: (LTW 50, CP cost: 95) Remember Waste Not from above ? This is an enhanced version of that, meaning that when you use it, your next 8 actions will only reduce durability by 5. It sounds great but it’s not, for several reasons. First, let’s look at durability vs CP cost. We saw earlier that MM is 10 durability for 31 CP, MMII is 10 durability for 27 CP, and Manipulation is (if used correctly), about 10 durability for 30 CP. Waste Not is 56 CP for 4 turns at 5 dura, therefore effectively 2 extra actions if you use all 4 (or only 3 if you haven’t used it before), therefore 10 durability for 28 CP. WNII is 95 CP for 8 turns at 5 dura, therefore effectively 4 extra actions max, therefore 10 dura for 95/4=24 CP (because rounding). Cheaper than MMII OMG it’s great! No, it’s not. Why? You may ask. Because if you plan on doing 8 synth/touch actions in a row, you’re almost necessarily relying on RNG for some of these, because SH/SHII only lasts for 5 actions. Either that, or you’re wasting at least one of these WNII stacks to pop SH/SHII, which is fine for the same reason as I described in WN (remember the 25/40 example?), but that also means you are foregoing any ToT during that time, or every ToT becomes a CP waste in regards to the cost of WNII. that may be a bit hard to wrap your head around, but the tl;dr version is that making WNII cost-effective (as opposed to MMII) is very very hard and relies on RNG a lot. it only gives one more effective action than MM for 3 CP more, which is not bad, except MM is braindead simple to use (no strings attached), whereas WNII has a lot of strings attached. Therefore, I prefer using MM 100% of the time if I have the appropriate CP of course. Feel free to try to use this skill, there are a few methods to make it worthwhile, but I strongly recommend you understand absolutely EVERYTHING I’ve written so far before you do (because if you do get everything I said, congratulations you can stop reading, you should now be able to come up with your own rotations on your own 🙂 )

I kid I kid! There is of course one more lesson to this, some basic skill combinations! You’ve already seen a few in the examples above, but here’s a couple more, with a description as to why they’re effective:

• The Finisher: The finisher is very important, it’s the last quality boost you’ll get before completing all the progress needed to complete your craft. This is where you spend ALL your remaining CP, as you should have aimed to finish your progress using CSII, which is 0CP. so what should your finisher look like? Well, it depends on your CP. The sure thing is, you should have a lot of IQS, the more the better, typically at least 7. You know you’re going to need BB, that’s the finisher move, it’s the kamehameha to your quality bar. But before you pop it, you want to boost it as much as possible. First, remember BB only has 90% success rate. For expensive crafts, that’s not good enough (unless you don’t have a choice and are really stranded for CP) so you want SH. Then, GS doubles the quality increase of BB, so you NEED GS. On top of that, if your CP allows, you can pop Innovation and Ingenuity I or II to help. Ok so these are the skills that are going to be involved in the finisher, but maybe not all of them: remember how “normal”, “good”, “excellent”, “poor” affect quality increase? This is VERY important right now: ideally, you want to pop BB on a “good” or “excellent”. Of course you have no control over when this appears, so it’s pure RNG. What you should know is that in terms of value: excellent > GS > good > Innovation/Ingenuity I or II. Also remember that SH lasts for 5 actions, GS for 3. With this information and everything you’ve learned so far, you SHOULD be able to come up with the optimal finisher. Here it is: SH > GS* > (Inn > Ing II) > BB > CSII as needed. Notice I put a * next to GS. If and ONLY IF you get an Excellent after SH, you drop GS, you do BB instead. Notice how Inn and Ing are between parentheses. If, after GS, you get a Good, it’s BB time. Note that if after Inn, you have 38 or more CP but not enough for Ing I/II + BB, you can pop Observe instead of Ing I/II for another chance at a good/excellent. So ultimately that means that the ultimate finisher costs 22+32+18+32+24=128CP, though 50 of these can potentially be neglected (no Innovation or Ing I/II). So 78 CP is the bare minimum. Lower than that, you need to drop SH, which makes you vulnerable to RNG. If you have less than 56 CP, you have goofed, you used too much CP, you should have saved some, and your finisher is BB alone. Better pray for an excellent!
• The CP-effective quality increase: SHII > HT * 5, popping ToT on every “good” and re-applying SHII when needed. If by now you don’t understand what this does, you need to re-read everything I wrote on these 3 skills. If you still don’t get it, I’m sorry but crafting is probably a bit too complicated for you.
• The durability-effective quality increase: SHII > WN > HT * 4, with at most 1 ToT after SHII. Yes, you’re wasting 1 stack of SHII, but that’s worth 5CP, not the biggest of deals. this combo can yield you 4 IQS at the cost of 20 effective durability, or 3 IQS at the cost of 10 effective durability (go read my description of Waste Not if you don’t see why or how). Good combo when you’re nearing your finisher but still have plenty of CP to spare
• The opener: CZ > ToT if “good” > IQ > ToT if “good”. This kinda speaks for itself. CZ should always be first, and IQ should come BEFORE ANY QUALITY SKILL (otherwise you’re wasting IQS). Also, CZ starts replenishing your CP and you have to make some room for that free 14CP, so why not use IQ right away ? There, you have made room for that free CP (well, except if ToT popped, but you’re going to make more room soon with SHII anyway so you’re fine).

Those are the most useful combos, I use them absolutely all the time. A few more rules:

• ALWAYS USE ToT ON a “GOOD”. There are exactly 2 exception to that: you’re in or after your finisher, or you’re already at max CP. If it’s the former, you don’t care about CP anymore because you should do your finisher and then spam CSII, and if it’s the latter, you should use that “good” on a BT.
• NEVER WASTE A MM/MMII. That means you only use MM at 10/40 durability, and MMII at either 10/80 or 20/80. Never use MM on 20/40 or MMII at 30/80, that’s wasteful and expensive
• SHII SHOULD ALWAYS BE UP FOR HT/RS. HT and RS have only 50% base success rate. That’s low. Don’t use those skills if SHII is down, unless you’re absolutely starving for CP. You shouldn’t be though, there are very few examples of things more important than SHII.
• IT’S OK TO WASTE SOME SHII STACKS, for instance to pop ToT, or WN, or MM/MMII. ToT gives you 20CP. SHII costs 25CP, so one stack is 5CP. 20=4*5. That ToT is 4 times more important than that SHII stack. Still, you should try to minimize wasting said stacks. FOR EXAMPLE: you’re at 20/80 durability, and you have 1 SHII stack left. Do you pop MMII or do you do one more HT? You do one more HT. Why? Let’s analyse this: by popping MM2, you get back to 80/80, you waste a stack of SHII (worth 5CP). If good pops, you can ToT, if excellent pops, you can gamble a BT if you want, or waste the excellent. Alright, now the other possiblity: you pop HT, you have an 80% chance at quality + 1 IQS, you’re now at 10/80. If you get a good, you can ToT, same as before. If you get an excellent, you HAVE TO WASTE IT because now you have to pop MM2, which takes you to 70/80. Do you see the difference? It’s subtle, but to put it in better light, here are the CONS for each sequence above, when compared to each other: for the first sequence, the con is that you wasted a SHII stack, you wasted 5 CP. For the second sequence, the con is that you wasted a chance to gamble on a potential excellent. In other words, you wasted concrete, hard value (5 CP) for complete uncertainty (excellent has a RNG chance of showing up, and even if it does you only have at most 90% chance of success if you gamble). Here is a bonus rule: CERTAINTY IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN UNCERTAINTY. Some of you will say: “but but but HT has only 80% chance of success even under SHII, that’s not certainty!” Correct, fine you wanna be picky. So let’s put these 2 sequences closer to each other. Let’s say in the first one, you get the coveted excellent. You choose to gamble on it. If you HT, 50% chance of success, very low. If you BT, 90% chance of success, decent, but it costs 18 CP. So in terms of probability, the BEST CASE SCENARIO for the first sequence has a probability of occurring of <probability of an excellent> * 50%. I don’t know what the probability of an excellent is, but it’s low (let’s say it’s 10%, but I think it’s actually lower). Divide it by 2 and that’s your chance at the best case scenario. Super low. If you BT instead of HT, it costs 18 CP and the probability of success is <probability of excellent> * 90%. Still low. Now for the first sequence, the best case scenario has 80% chance of happening (HT under SHII). But, let’s compare at same cost, shall we? In the previous sequence, we had a BT which costs 18CP, so let’s make it fair and replace HT with BT here too. Success chance: 100%. And there you have it, whether you’re looking at equal cost or not, the second scenario is statistically better. The off-chance that you’ll get an excellent that you may gamble on (double uncertainty) never outweighs the value of SHII.
• YOU SHOULD ALWAYS KNOW HOW MANY PROGRESS STEPS YOU NEED TO FINISH A CRAFT. If you don’t, expect to fail until you find that number. You need to experiment and do some math to find this number. For instance, start a craft, use CSII, write down how much it gives you. Then Ing II > CSII, write down how much THAT gives you. then do some math, try to combine SS (keep in mind that costs 15 CP and only has a base 90% success rate), PbP as the first and maybe second step (also 15 CP), RS if needed (keep in mind that has at most 80% success rate), find the optimal combination, i.e. the one that combines the fewest number of skills used, the highest success rate, and the lowest amount of CP. Once you have it, the next rule comes into play:
• YOU SHOULD KEEP ENOUGH CP AND DURABILITY FOR YOUR FINISHER+PROGRESS COMPLETION. We’ve covered CP in the finisher section above, and for durability, it’s the number I mentioned previously + 10 durability (for the finisher itself)
• FOR 3* AND UP, IF IT’S TIME FOR YOUR FINISHER AND YOU HAVE LESS THAN 7 IQS, RECLAIM AND FAIL THE CRAFT unless you’re willing to accept LQ of course. The idea is that for 3* crafts at 6 or less IQS, even BB with GS+Inn+IngII+Excellent, your quality bar will not go that high and you will likely LQ. If you’re ok with LQ then great, do it, but if you want HQ absolutely, reclaim and retry is the better option. Yes it’s risky, but it’s statistically worth it. Personally for very very expensive crafts that I absolutely want to HQ (Kirimu gear for instance), I reclaim if I don’t have at least 8 IQS, but that’s up to you, do what you’re comfortable with.

And I’m spent, this is all I can do for you 🙂 If you have read and understood everything I’ve written, you are ready to craft in FFXIV. GL&HF.

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